So, I am devoting this week to Dr. King, his honor, and his unfinished business. The Reverend King was a once in a generation man who happened upon a once in a lifetime historical moment. He was a man exuding with appreciation of life, the grandest will to love, and full of wisdom. We honor a hero and a lodestar for a world even more in turmoil than the one embraced and challenged by the preacher from Georgia.
… You’ve got it in you. You have the spark, which molded this magnificent man. But how can you learn to use it? How can we learn to become like Joseph, like Dr. King, like Jesus? How can we become a person who, with God, transforms what was meant for evil into the salvation of many? That’s the real question.
It starts personally, this walk to the Everest of peace, brotherhood, and justice. I think this is what our African American brothers and sisters, any group that has been historically oppressed is trying to tell us. We can never forget the past or move past it if the type of hearts that oppressed them in the first place still beat in the chest of the masses.
Joseph displayed the transformed heart in glory with his brothers that day. It starts with the skill that the spiritual masters have been trying to teach us for centuries: transform what was meant for evil toward you into the salvation for many. Some call it appreciation; others call it perspective, or thankfulness. Dr. King called it the value of unmerited suffering. He writes, “as my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force…recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only the save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform my self and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains.”
This is perhaps the simplest and hardest work in all the universe. Can you take your greatest disappointments, your most horrific unmerited suffering and abandon them into God’s hands? Can you learn to let your hands loose and give to God your most cherished self-narrative and receive in return the chance to fulfill your greatest desires? If so, you begin the painful labor of your best self, full of faith, hope, and love. This is where Dr. King’s and Jesus’ dream takes us…