BY REV. TIM JOHNSON - ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH
Vividly I recall the evening of April 4 — 50 years ago on the eve of my 11th birthday. My father and I were on opposite ends of our kitchen table, following supper and clean-up. Darkness descended, and the only light was that above our kitchen table (dad being his German-self always maintained the rule: leave a room, turn off the light). He was reading the newspaper held up in his hands, while I was simply waiting for my mother who was shopping for the birthday gift I desired — the game of Life. Many years later I thought, "how apropos."
An old battery-operated light blue radio sitting on the kitchen counter was on at a low volume. Within the stillness of that evening, the voice on the radio suddenly broke out, "We interrupt this programming to bring you the following news bulletin …" My dad slowly lowered the newspaper, listening closely as the details came forth of the shooting of Martin Luther King. Without saying a word, I watched as dad placed the paper on the kitchen table and walked the few steps over to the radio, turning up the volume slightly. He sat back down, silently listening to the reports of Martin Luther King’s death. I had the sense to refrain from any questions, somehow realizing the extraordinary grace in those moments of silence.
Such a lesson as only God could set up; moments of faith that occur spontaneously and with a context of understanding only over time. Though the memory remains vivid and the lesson pronounced, I have struggled over the years with prejudice and judgment, however subtle at times. My hope has been faith — the faith along this journey in life to seek and believe in the mercy and healing as only Christ can give. Faith that provides hope, provides patience and the understanding of the dignity inherent in each human life created in God’s image. As I recall that evening, my father’s silence 50 years ago, I realize how the journey of faith for each of us will encounter moments of grace and healing God is directing us toward.
"Faith is taking the first step when you cannot see the whole staircase." — MLK.
On the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, a poem by Langston Hughes defined our calling and who we are as Easter Christians on our journey of faith:
Being walkers with the dawn and morning, Walkers with the sun and morning, We are not afraid of night, Nor days of gloom, Nor darkness — Being walkers with the sun and morning.