A Prayer Illuminated By Martin Luther King, Jr.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we celebrate and remember a man who held many titles: father, pastor, activist, trailblazer. As we have the privilege of looking back into history and considering his work as a whole, we are able to give him another well deserved title: champion of love. Woven throughout his speeches and diligent efforts in the name of equality, you can see that he worked from a baseline of love. He encouraged it, praised it, and spoke to the power that it holds even in his darkest hours.
I thought I would share some of his quotes that I enjoy and use them as the foundation for my own prayer for this world, our country, and a hopeful future.
I am thankful that you are on the throne and we are not. That you hold me and this world in your hands even when chaos fills my soul. I find it easy to drown in that noise-bind my wandering heart to you. Today is a significant day. Thank you for the life and legacy of Dr. King...for his testimony of words that still hold so much power and agency today.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
I often feel inadequate. This country continues to be filled with hatred and divisiveness that drives the lines in the sand deeper and more visible. Conversations and comments are so discouraging...they make me wonder about the state of humanity if this is how we so easily speak to each other. It all overwhelms: heartbreak, disaster, betrayal, racism, hatred, abuse. My mind runs with how I can somehow be your hands and feet. How I can intersect these words of bitterness with a love that is deeper than my feeble, human understanding.
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
Forgive me for the times I have represented the problem, joined in, engaged in something ignorant...or worse, have said nothing. When I allowed my own selfishness or fear serve as a convenient excuse.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.
Grant me the courage and heart to walk towards a day where we can celebrate our differences...to pursue justice, equality, and most of all LOVE even when it's the difficult choice. That I may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Help me see and believe in the potential of the future and in the fact that you can take small actions and turn them into large change. Allow me to be a voice and helping hand to the marginalized...a light for any one that has ever felt less than. Enable me to create spaces for love to live and run. Help us link arms and fight for a tomorrow that is more respectful, more unified. May we create a world that my nephews, niece, and hopefully own children can grow up in that isn't so suffocated with injustice. That as they grow into their own, they will also help cultivate a brighter future...one that hopes, accepts, loves, and fights bravely for what is pure and good.
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
-Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King, Jr.