Red and Yellow, Black and White

I lived the first few years of my life in Southeast D.C. I remember being 4 years old and walking with my 8-year-old sister one evening to the birthday party of her friend from school. We were the only white people in the room. Though I noticed that, I also noticed we felt welcome, particularly by the older gentleman who greeted us at the door.

I didn’t understand a couple of years later, after we moved to Cleveland, why my mother made me stop playing with the other little girl on the playground. She was just like the kids I had known back in D.C., except that my mother hadn’t been around me much in D.C. That part was different.

Then, as an adult, I remember being saddened week after week as we drove past the black Missionary Baptist church to attend our largely white megachurch just a block away. What a divide that one block created! Such a divide saddened and confused me then, and the increasing divide in our country saddens and confuses me today.

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Here we were, still in the heat of the George Zimmerman verdict, when my husband and I embarked on our first cruise just an hour from where Trayvon Martin died. Never have I been more aware of heightened racial tensions in our country, which has brought grief to my heart and, no doubt, to my God.

Many black families joined us on the cruise, and a lovely family – two grown daughters and their mother – sat next to us our first two nights at dinner. I noticed the birthday crown on the younger daughter’s head. “Happy birthday!” I exclaimed.

“It’s not my birthday yet,” she explained. “It’s not till Sunday. But I’m going to celebrate it all weekend long.”

“Sunday? That’s my husband’s birthday! We’re here to celebrate his birthday and our 25th anniversary,” I explained. Both, it turns out, were celebrating Milestone Birthdays – though my husband’s milestone turned out to be a bit farther down the road.

“Where are you all from?” I later asked.

“We’re from Cleveland,” one of the sisters said.

“Get out! I used to live in Cleveland!”

Thus began two nights of talking about birthdays and families and life in Cleveland and cruises and even the Lord.

We ended like this: “My sweet friends,” I began, “it has been so special getting to know you. If I don’t see you again on this side of heaven, I hope to see you on the next, because I know where my eternity will be.”

“So do I!” one of the sisters said, high-fiving me. “I’ll see you there!” 

We hugged. We took photos using each other’s cameras. We said goodbye. Our paths didn’t cross again for the rest of the cruise, and I was sad. How I admired their energy, their humor and their love!

Maybe this is how we break down the racial divide – by reaching out with the love of Jesus one relationship at a time. Loving as we have been loved. Setting aside differences and finding common ground. Putting Jesus first.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples – if you love one another.” – John 13:35

Let love be your hammer. Let’s tear down that wall.

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