This past weekend was quite a whirlwind, the culmination of a few weeks planning to celebrate the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela coincided with the unfolding of the trial of the George Zimmerman trial.
Saturday evening on my way to a posh Beverly Hills restaurant to celebrate one of my best friend’s milestone birthdays, the news blared with the aftermath of the not guilty verdict. Specifically, the smugly irreverent post-interviews of the defense team.
When something terribly wrong begins to unfold, it feels like swirling, unpredictable currents of foulness. Wherever they pass darkness falls. As I felt that I prayed fervently for clarity and truth that came as a visual:
I saw a crowd of people, dark silhouettes only in the distance, standing on top of a deep stone foundation, with a cut away view. The foundation began to crumble, disturbing the silhouettes lined up in a neat row, and as the foundation broke apart huge trees sprouted up among the people.
It became clear the breaking foundation was caused by roots digging deeper to support growth. As all this happened, the silhouettes began to tear apart from their centers, where their hearts would be and enormous giants began to grow in their place.
The quaking and destruction is not the finish, but the preparation.
With the right foundation, perspective and path forward we can see the truth: God is good all the time, no matter how terrible or painful present circumstances seem.
I went to the ritzy dinner Saturday and felt so out of sorts, because of the mirth and glitter contrasted with sorrow I felt for Trayvon Martin’s family (rest his soul), and those who felt lost, helpless. Especially those who felt violently angry.
The next morning I headed to work and saw my dad (who’s also my boss) sitting in the sunshine enjoying morning coffee. We chatted about the verdict among other things and he asked if I’d share my thoughts at the event.
I did, beginning with my little tradition of singing my heart out for a moment or two to grab folks attention before I speak.
I went on to share these words:
I was here talking with my dad this morning about what it means to celebrate the life, legacy and values of a man who fought against hatred and racism, when we saw what happened yesterday with the Zimmerman trial.
As my dad talked about the irony, I pointed out how appropriate I think the timing really is. Sometimes it seems like folks my age and younger (I’m 33, thank you) feel apartheid, the Civil Rights movement are things of the past.
As much as I agree with my dad that it’s critical for those of like mind and spirit to present a unified agenda… I also had to point out how much Madiba got accomplished in just one term.
Because he had the fiery commitment of so many people who weren’t privileged to be in office. Our leaders need that here in America.
Having a black president who is dignified, graceful and spiritually sound lead the same America that believed blacks were 3/5ths human isn’t a sign we’ve arrived…
That is a reminder of how well equipped we are to advance the kind of radical change Madiba stood for.
We face very real challenges and need the kind of hope that sees above our circumstances and beyond the news. We need the conviction to press into a better life not only for black people, but for all God’s children.
So today, we honor and celebrate Nelson Mandela, and those who continue his life, legacy and values: Congresswoman Maxine Waters for all she does, and the Los Angeles Free South Africa Movement.
As we sit here at WLCAC in a building named after the dignified, supernaturally graceful Phoenix bird who rises from ashes, I’m excited for what the future holds, and grateful to share this time with you.
I introduced my dad and the event exceeded expectations.
As dark as these days seem – and I do believe that from one level they will appear to grow darker – we have to be propelled forward by the truth: Light is always shining brighter and good always prevails. All our efforts to make change are pointless if we ignore the root problem.
So wherever you are, remember you have influence over more people than you think. And your influence is like spiritual currency: Depending on what you’re holding, it can go quite a ways, returning plenty on your investment whether good or bad, truth or lies.
Your own heart posture is like your bank account. If it’s filled with hate, the spiritual influence you wield will return the same investment, just like blood money taints everything it buys. Not only does it taint purchases, it also darkens the fiduciary just by holding it.
Holding hate in our hearts not only damages every thing we affect in the world, it burns us up from within as well.
When our hearts are filled with love our spiritual currency is like purest gold, the yield greater than we could ever imagine.
Even when it feels like our hearts are breaking over injustice, know the pain comes from being stretched and torn apart to make room, not to destroy.
Fill that new space with the love of God and the effect will be like an exponential growth in your spiritual bank account, and endless well of the most valuable currency on the market.
From that place, the solutions we develop will assure an outcome that obliterates hate instead of perpetuating it.