Later this month, I will celebrate a milestone birthday having been born in 1968. It seems unbelievable to me in many ways, but I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, and I revel in the fact that I am in the Grace community as I approach this occasion! Leading up to such an event, I have also been reflecting on what it must have been like for my own parents to bring a baby into the world at such a time of unrest and tumult. While they share some of their memories of that time, I think what I hear most in their recollections is the shock they were grappling with as one cataclysmic loss after another unfolded. I imagine that some of you feel some of what my own parents felt at the end of this year which has held great upheaval and an unleashing of hate and unrest.
And so it also has me considering the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s passing, especially as we prepare to recognize his birthday and legacy next week. On Sunday, I will visit National Cathedral with my family for a recognition of his last Sunday sermon delivered at the Cathedral on March 31, 1968. It was titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” In preparing for this event, I decided to read the sermon and I was drawn to the following passage:
Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.
The notion that we are “tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in the inescapable network of mutuality” seems most pertinent to our work here at Grace. Each day, it is our duty to remind our students that they are part of a community that cares for them. And that care is also expected of each student, teacher, and parent. Teaching our children that “whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly” is daily work in our school. It is what makes this school the place that it is and that it can keep becoming.
Next month, we will invite Equity and Inclusion consultant Nicole Lee to lead workshops for both parents and faculty. Nicole has much experience to share with us in this important work of our own. Grace, as one of the most diverse schools in the Washington area, must continue to take up the work of building understanding and empathy in our community. And so, as we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy next week in chapel and in our classrooms, may we be reminded of his voice that calls us to care for another for the sake of our community’s continued flourishing.