Monday, November 30, 2015
I pay more attention to Mondays now that I am volunteering at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial most every Monday. Since the humidity broke in early September, we've had one remarkably gorgeous Monday after another. I'd gotten so spoiled by them that I stopped taking pictures at the memorial if there was the faintest hint of haze or a single cloud in the sky, and still my phone is full of pictures taken on stunningly beautiful and crystal clear Monday mornings.
So as I strolled around the plaza this morning, enjoying the solitude that comes even to busy National Parks on days such as this one, I did so appreciating a different beauty.
I've been humming this David LaMotte song lately. Its refrain strikes me as perfect for Advent: "all the darkness in the world can't extinguish the light of just one candle." I was humming it as I paused in front of these words from Dr. King: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
It's not just the shortness of the days that makes this time seem dark. Wars and rumors of war dominate the news, which is interrupted regularly by spasms of violence of a more domestic sort. Too many of our aspiring national leaders truck far too often in lies and propaganda. Signs of hope are difficult to discern amidst the darkness.
All of that was running through my mind as I read again King's words, and pondered how one carves a stone of hope out of a mountain of despair. Just about then a lovely young African American woman, with her baby in a snuggly on her chest, stopped to take a picture of a middle-aged white couple posing in front of the 28-foot tall relief of Dr. King. I walked over to greet them and offer brochures, and asked, as I always do, "where are y'all from?" Turns out the young woman lives in DC, and the couple are her in-laws visiting from Michigan for Thanksgiving.
We chatted for a while, and I shared some basics about the memorial's history and design. As the young mom and her mother-in-law wandered off toward the FDR Memorial, the father-in-law paused to thank me, saying, "I really appreciate your passion for this place."
I thanked him for the kind words, and I silently thanked their family for embodying a sign of hope for me. Dr. King gazes out from the granite relief with a pretty stern and serious visage, but I think there's a twinkle in his eyes sometimes, even in the gloom and grey, when he sees people striding toward freedom.