My blogging went quiet between February 25 (What to Do for Lent in Silicon Valley) and May 25 (New Churches Stuck in a Christendom Box). “Jon, what did you do during those three months?” I’m glad you asked! 😀 Let’s start with my trip to Atlanta. It gave me an unexpected connection to the time my father was thought to be dead, killed while marching with Dr. King.
Big Nerd Ranch
In March, I flew out to Atlanta. There, I spent a week at Big Nerd Ranch for their Advanced iOS Programming class:
I’m a Big Nerd now! I even have a T-shirt that says, “Achieve Nerdvana.”
Dr. King Memorial
When the Advanced iOS class finished, my coworkers and I had a little time to before the return flight. We settled on going to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. To my surprise, the first person to greet us at the memorial was Mahatma Gandhi:
The whole memorial was deeply moving. Christ is tangibly present in the work of MLK and the civil rights movement. But there’s also a personal connection: my father marched with Dr. King. When I spoke with my dad about visiting the memorial, he told me more about his experience…
My dad saw men who had brought bats, ready for action.
One of my dad’s professors at Harvard Divinity School had gone on an earlier march. At Dr. King’s request, he recruited students to go down to Selma. But the professor shared his surprise at what the pre-march briefing was like. “Instead of a stirring speech about how we were leading the world, the preparation was very practical: How to use your arms to protect your head. How to stuff newspapers under your hat to prevent injury when you’re hit by clubs.”
So my father left for the march. During the march, he linked arms with a black woman on his left. He was on the rightmost edge of marchers. As he walked, he saw men who had brought bats, ready for action. My dad told me he tried to stare them down, hoping to instill some shame in them. How like him (and me)! But the woman on his left yanked his arm and told him, “Keep your head front and your eyes down!”
My dad goes by his middle name, but is sometimes called by a formal title: Reverend James Reid.
In the news, my mother heard that “a Reverend James Reeb” had been killed in the violence.
Reid. Reeb. Remember, this all gets fuzzed over A.M. radio. My mother was sure he was dead.
And then, to her astonishment, he walked in the front door.
Weird thought: I might not have grown up with a father. Our family of four kids had a dad. But another family of four kids lost their dad.
So I’m thankful to Dr. King, to James Reeb and his family, and to all the brave practitioners of non-violence:
For their work and sacrifice.
For showing what the kingdom of God is like.
For the difference they made.
For their example of following Jesus no matter the cost.
Have you been to the MLK Memorial in Atlanta? What was your experience there?