I was walking to my English class among swarms of other high school students, when someone ran up and shouted, "President Kennedy has been shot!"
Surely this cannot be, I thought. But as I settled into my seat, the teacher stood and then haltingly announced that our President had died moments earlier from gunshot wounds. Between gasps and tears, we were told we could leave early that day--and I did.
Four years later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within two months of each other. Our entire nation mourned the loss of our beloved leaders--as well as the demise of our collective hope-filled dreams.
The decade of the Sixties was marked by tragedy, conflict, and clashes of perspective. For those of us who lived during this era, it was life-wrenching, life-changing.
And again...we gasp and we cry, "What are we to do?"
The youth of the Sixties were guided by promises of a "New Frontier" with justice for all. We believed, indeed we knew, we could make a difference. But alas, our idealism was naïve and ultimately, our legacy became the music of that tumultuous time.
Looking back through the past decades, I have a new appreciation for the movement of grace through time. I can see the footsteps, some shallow but some deep, of societal change. I tend to overlook the progress we have made and dwell instead on the failures that remain. But, when I pause and set my impatience aside for even a moment, another thought arises and I wonder--could it be that the threats of this era serve a purpose unseen?
I'm reminded of the words of William Jennings Bryan, "Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."
What is it we must achieve--collectively? You, me, those folks over there?
The road we travel is parched by time. It's horizon extends beyond what we can see. But through the clouds that stretch across our skies, one sun shines--on all who will see. Sometimes the rubble of our lives hide the light within our reach, but it is this Light, that brings me to my knees. Figuratively or literally, perhaps that is a way for us to meet.