Sons and Prophets and Kings

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August 12, 2013 was incredibly hot and humid in Washington DC.   When my husband said, “Let’s walk The Mall!” I bit my tongue.  I love to walk, but my tired, hot and hungry boys might have been overestimating their stamina.  One of them was already cranky, and I remembered The National Mall, the area between the US Capitol and Lincoln Memorial, as being, well…long.

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We walked by memorials, fountains, and people taking pictures.

Robin Wright as Jenny Curran in "Forrest Gump"(1994). Source: The Official Trailer
Robin Wright as Jenny Curran in “Forrest Gump”(1994).

As we rounded the corner and started the walk along the 2029-foot Reflecting Pool, I thought out loud, “Forest!!!!” as I pictured the scene when Jenny in flowing hippie beauty jumps in calling for her friend.   Everybody chuckled.  A little Forest Gump goes a long way.

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Mental note, there is no shade along the Reflecting Pool.

There are, however, a lot of geese, and geese leave a lot of…pooh.  We were half-way to the other end of the pool when my change-the-world son said, “Every time a politician lies, a goose sh*ts at the pool.”  That’s my boy.

He has always got something to say.

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August 28, 1963 was incredibly hot and humid in Washington DC when over 250,000 people arrived for the March on Washington.  They walked, and cheered, and sang, and carried signs. They took off their shoes and dipped their feet in the Reflecting Pool. They were black, white, women, men, young, old, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. Despite concerns of potential violence, the March was peaceful.  It was a beautiful day.

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They say the applause was so loud when Martin Luther King Jr. arrived at the podium, he had to wait a full minute before he could speak.  They say he was nervous when he started to read his speech.  He had never before spoken in front of this many people.  With all eyes upon him, part-way through his well crafted notes, he stopped reading and looked up at the crowd.

In the pause, the crowd grew quiet, waiting.  From somewhere nearby, Mahalia Jackson, one of King’s favorite gospel singers, called out to him, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”

He set his speech aside, looked out at all those people, and opened up his heart.  “I have a dream…”

King never knew the full impact of his famous speech.   The words “I have a dream” echoed loudest after his death, and echo still today.   They were words from the soul spoken into an unknown future.  Words magnified by the heat, absorbed by the crowd, blended with the divine.

When the day ended, and the crowds headed home, they carried the dream with them into everyday life.  One step after another, things began to change.

El Rio de Luz (The River of Light), oil on canvas, 1877. Frederic Edwin Church, National Gallery of Art.
El Rio de Luz (The River of Light), oil on canvas, 1877. Frederic Edwin Church, National Gallery of Art.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the day God called the prophet Jeremiah to ministry was an incredibly hot and humid day.  For some reason, the significant moments always seem to carry with them a certain intensity of temperature.

The Bible tells us that God said to Jeremiah,
I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“Oh Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you!  I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say ‘I’m to young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.  And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you.  I, the Lord, have spoken!”  Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!  Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms.  Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow.  Others you must build up and plant.”  (Jeremiah 1:4-10)

God gave Jeremiah the words.  God gave King the words.  And God keeps on giving us the words, every day.

Sometimes to speak the right words, you just have to throw the script away.

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To get to where you need to go, you might have to ignore the heat, forget about the distance, and walk through the pooh.

Just dip your feet in the reflecting pool, and keep on walking.

Walk on by Faith, Mahalia Jackson

I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr.

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