I am sitting at the dining room table with the Shabbat candles burning. My daughter and one of her very best friends– our neighbor from up the street, and a young person who I particularly love being around myself– are watching a DVD about 6 feet from me. I spent much of the day with them. There was no school today and I fixed lunch for them (well, to be truthful, we made nachos and then I threw something else together that could hardly have been called a healthy meal) and we took off for a museum that has a lot of hands-on stuff where we spent far longer than I would ever have imagined they would have wanted.
They are very excited because the stars lined up and the four parents involved have agreed on a sleepover for them here. It is cold for this part of the world– and has been cold with ice and snow on the ground for over a week and so the candles bring not only light, but a feeling of warmth into the house. My mind is heavy with hard things– but the candles and these two girls are the counterpoint and I love being home with them.
Several miles away at our synagogue, the annual musical Shabbat service honoring and commemorating Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; a service filled with beautiful, hopeful, uplifting music sung by a Jewish choir and an African American choir, is just concluding. We had planned to go, but for a number of reasons, and although it was hard to miss, we decided to stay home instead. I know I am missing something important and today though I had many things to do, I thought a lot about the meaning that the movement for civil rights for black people, offered me as a young person. I feel very lucky to have been very young in a time infused, top to bottom, with fairly open struggles about racism, war, conscience, morality and values. Not that I feel lucky to have been young in a time when there was racism and war, but lucky to have been born in a time when there was such open dialogue about those issues– as well as vibrant, progressive social movements fighting for change. I do still believe that young people and young adults were responsible in significant measure, for many of the important victories of that time.
My first post on this blog, a post called, Skin, was posted on January 18, 2010 and described, literally, my own skin, the small surgery I had just had for a squamous cell carcinoma and many other things, including the MLK service at our congregation one year ago. It is just past one year since I set up this blog and nearly one year since I posted my first real post. I do not think this writing, just me at my dining room table, or in the guest room or bedroom are a substitute for the things people did– all together, in churches, synagogues, on the streets and in living rooms in all kinds of places– in Dr. King’s time– to change our world. But I am glad to have this collective community of readers, thinkers, friends known and unknown– all of you, thinking, hoping, planning for a future for ourselves and our children. And very glad to have these candles burning, my partner making a simple, delicious dinner and these two girls– so close by.