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Grant Us Your Vision in Our Time | June 23, 2024 Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake

Updated: Jul 11

O God, grant us Your vision in our time

Help us to write it so large that even a runner can see it.

Make it so compelling that even a cynic will pause,

So convincing that a skeptic will risk trying to bring hope to others,

And so inspiring that the committed will stand courageously in faith,

leaving the results to You.

 

The first African American woman to pass the bar in Mississippi, Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, has been a prophetic voice for many years. As an attorney, she secured funding for one of the largest Head Start Programs in the nation. Serving as director of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Jackson, Mississippi, her keen legal mind was used in the employment of justice. These and so many other major accomplishments were stairways to her founding and presiding over the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in 1973. CDF is our country’s most powerful advocate for children. In 2018 she retired as president and now carries the title of President Emerita. She has been one of the most powerful and effective civil/human rights movement leaders.

 

I have been fortunate to meet and enjoy her company. An extraordinary person, she describes herself as a servant leader. I have shared her leadership style with my students at Pacific School of Religion/Graduate Theological Union. I have benefitted from her gentle, strong, encompassing, confident, and loving presence at Alex Haley Farm. Perhaps there would be no such farm without her intelligence, contextual analysis, vision, diplomacy, and ability to translate vision into reality. We connected on a wonderful level. She instructed me to conduct a workshop on Dr. Howard Thurman the following year. Gus Newport, our recently deceased community member, stood beside me and stated that he witnessed what had just transpired.

 

On June 6th this year, Marian Wright Edelman celebrated her 85th birthday. I was honored to be asked by Rev. Dr. Janet Wolf, a member of the Coordinating Team of the National Council of Elders, to write a birthday greeting that she would hand deliver to Dr. Edelman. What an honor!

 

After composing words of gratitude for such a beautiful life, I looked up from my desk with eyes that traveled to Dr. Edelman’s book, The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting A Course for the Next Generation. Opening the book, I was arrested by the poem that opens this message: Grant us Your Vision in Our Time. I sensed her commitment to the vision coming to fruition in contemporary times, while we live.

 

            O God grant us Your vision. 

This is not about our vision, yours or mine. It is much larger. It is a vision for the world by the maker of the world, the creator of all the substance of life, the Alpha and Omega of Existence. Yet, the writer is asking us to participate in making the vision clear and visible enough that it cannot be mistaken. It presumes that we have a responsibility for the vision to be unmistakable. Even a runner absorbed in the running will not miss it. The vision should be so compelling that even the cynic, the doubter, the defeated, those who do not believe anything positive can come forth, will pause and risk persuading to give hope a chance. The vision writ large would inspire the committed to stand courageously in truth, leaving the results to God.

 

Gandhi wrote:

 

The Gita says, “Do your allotted work, but renounce its fruit – be detached and work – have no desire for reward and work. This is the unmistakable teaching of the Gita. He who gives up action falls. He who gives up only the reward rises. But renunciation of fruit in no way means indifference to the result. In regard to every action one must know the result that is expected to follow, the means thereto, and the capacity for it.

 

Our task is to make the plain as Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr. says, not for “the sweet bye and bye” but “for the nasty now and now.” We cannot be guaranteed effectiveness. That is the work of the Spirit. We do all in our power so that the Holy Spirit cannot deny the vision.

 

Dr. Edelman leads the reader to one of the most watched videos on YouTube, the Battle at Kruger Park. It is not easy to watch. Mama, Daddy, and child buffalo are strolling ahead of the rest of the herd when they suddenly realize that they are dangerously near a pride of six lions. The lions also realize that din-din is close at hand. The buffalo turn and run. The lions pursue them. The child, the most vulnerable and slowest of foot, is seized by the lions. They tumble together into a river where an alligator grabs one of the child’s legs either to have its own meal or to at least share the bounty. A tussle pursues. Eventually, the lions rescue the child from the alligator and drag it, still alive, to land. As they poise themselves for the kill, a large herd of buffalo surrounds the lions. But there is no action until one of the buffalo upends a lion via her horns and other buffalo follow suit until the child is rescued.

 

Here's the video.




What’s behind Edelman’s use of this video? She muses: I asked myself: Where is our human posse – our community posse – as the human lions and alligators eat our children alive across America today? And what are the lessons this thrilling rescue of a water buffalo child provide us about our responsibility to protect and save our endangered children?

 



 

An issue at hand is an insistence on the visibility of children. They must be seen and heard. International Children’s Day was June 1. How many of us paid any attention to that? Dr. Benton was aware and reminded me. We need to be reminded. It needs to be writ large, as large as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Children and the elderly are our most vulnerable populations.

 

In his favorite book, Inward Journey, Dr. Howard Thurman said:

 

Let us bring before our spirits the children of the world! The children born in refugee camps where all is tentative and shadowy, except the hardness of the constant anguish and anxiety that have settled deep within the eyes of those who answer when the call is “Mommy or “Daddy” . . . the numberless hosts of orphans corralled like sheep in places of refuge where the common conscience provides bread to eat, water to drink, and clothes to cover the nakedness and the shame . . .the inarticulate groan of those who are the offspring of hot lust held in its place by exploding shells and the insanity of war – these are the special wards of the collective guilt of the human race, the brood left behind when armies moved and the strategies of war made towns into a desolation. . . . The children in families where all love is perishing and they cannot even sense the awareness that their own lives are touched by love’s gentleness and strength. . .. The children of great and good fortune whose lives have been always surrounded by the tenderness of affection and the gentleness of understanding, across whose paths no shadows have fallen and for whom life is beautiful and free.

 

The Thurmans and Dr. Edelman were part of a vast host of individuals committed to supporting children. After Mrs. (Dr.) Sue Bailey Thurman's death, books from Dr. Thurman’s library along with Mrs. Thurman’s International Dolls collection were given the Children’s Defense Fund. Mrs. Thurman used the dolls in summer workshops to tutor children about their interrelationship, to learn about the various peoples of the world, to respect their differences, and to honor their commonality.

 

Dr. Edelman offered five bullet points in caring for our children:

 

·      Protect the most vulnerable first

·      Parents alone cannot protect children: it takes a community.

·      You and I must be a herd for children

·      We must act with urgency to save children

·      Never give up on a child

 

Last Wednesday was Juneteenth. Festivities abounded. It’s a federal holiday now. For two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, people who had been freed continued to suffer the indignities, pain, and dehumanization of slavery. How many slave women were raped during those two and a half years? How many mothers and fathers were denied protection of their children? How many children were torn from their mothers? How many were malnourished, beaten, stunted in growth, and denied education and dignity?

 

On Juneteenth 2024, I was crossing the street on my way to a bakery to purchase a loaf of bread. After crossing, I tried to avert my eyes as I saw a woman standing there. “Sir, I don’t mean to disrespect you. And I’m not asking for money. But would you buy some food for my children?" We were standing in front of a Chinese restaurant with carryout service. We walked into the restaurant. I encouraged her to get more food than she was ordering. She stated that the two children could share. Reluctantly she added a few more pieces. I heard her saying under her breath a prayer to God for answering her prayer for her children. I asked about purchasing something for herself. She declined. It was for the children. She was so grateful. I gave her the money left from the twenty-dollar bill and added to that.


Celebrate Juneteenth - 1865-2024?

 




 

 

 

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