"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." - Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)
Our son had never been in such a big Pride parade. This was a first-tier city in the 50th year after the Stonewall Uprising, so this one was big. As we walked into the wall of sound created by all the onlookers’ whistles and screams of support, I watched him wilt against my husband, overwhelmed. As he hid behind his own placard and closed his eyes tight, I thought, "Uh oh. We’re gonna have to leave."
But after a block or two, I watched him peek out with dawning comprehension. "Wait," he said to me. "Are they yelling for us? I thought they were yelling at us!" By the end of the parade, he was marching like he was in the band and waving like the mayor. Two and a half miles of thousands of people screaming their support will do that.
But what about two and a half miles, or a lifetime, of scorn or hatred? What about two and a half miles, or a lifetime, of over-policing, hate crimes, unlevel playing fields, slurs called from moving cars? Is it any surprise that people living at oppressed, historically underrepresented, and marginalized intersections have rates of suicide, illness, depression so much higher than average? So many people spend their lives being screamed at and not for. Is it any wonder that so many don’t get to the end of the parade at all, much less upright and smiling?
You’re in somebody’s cloud of witnesses right now, whether you know it or not. Look around. What might you scream, or whisper, or do that could help them make it all the way?
Gracious one, let my support for your people be so loud that everything else is drowned out. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.