Some last photos from our whirlwind tour of Atlanta, Montgomery, and Selma. MLK and John Lewis were everywhere, in words and image, and rightly so. But I found myself moved especially on this visit by the witness of all those “ordinary” people who put themselves on the line for the cause of justice: the Freedom Riders and lunch counter protestors, the working people who walked during the Montgomery bus boycott, the men and women who crossed the bridge at Selma.
These words of Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal bishop of Atlanta, resonated with me: In addition to those “champions who we knew by name … it boggles the mind to think about the multitude of people who through minuscule militant acts contended with evil and found God mighty to save.”
In an essay I read on the plane home, Wright wrote that the American South is our Holy Land. It’s “the location where both the personal and the communal experience of God in past days occurred. The place where significance and guidance for present-day activities abound, in addition to the promise of continued relationship, identity, and even prosperity in the future with God. … The land is holy because labor and pain, joy and grief, birth and death, war and peace, prayer to and betrayal of God have happened on this land and therefore it is set apart.”
I also enjoyed much good conversation with my daughter, who is working hard in her professional life to foster a robustly inclusive workplace, and who Has been teaching me a lot.
It was a moving visit, as any visit to the Holy Land should be. And the ongoing question is, how am I changed by it?
*”The American South is Our Holy Land,” in “Living into God’s Dream,” edited by Catherine Meeks.