The clouds parted with impeccable timing Sunday just in time for our picnic in Piedmont Park, despite what seemed like open monsoon season earlier in the day. I got there right before 3pm with my Mom and Dad who drove down from NC to be with me for the day. I wondered whether it would just be the three of us because of the weather, but gradually over the next hour individuals, couples, families, and groups of friends started showing up one after another, over 150 in all. They spread out colorful blankets, shared delicious food, played games and combined their healing energy together in one beautiful display of love and solidarity with all those who have been targeted because they are different.
Halfway through our time together, I stood to address the people assembled in the exact same spot where just two weeks and two days before, my loved one and I had spread out our blanket, set up our picnic basket, and were enjoying a peaceful summer evening together. I felt a flood of thoughts and emotions before I started to speak. I thought about the gun pressed to my temple, the bruises on my face and body, and the anger I felt at having a carefree evening ripped out from underneath me. I thought about the ease at which those young people allowed themselves to disrespect us because of our perceived sexual orientation. I thought about the ‘what ifs’ of the night of July 2, 2010 and the possibility that the delicious shrimp pasta dish I had prepared that evening might have been my last. I thought about the sadness I felt when I found out the age of the people who had been arrested, and how traumatic this would be for their families and my own as this plays out in the Courts and beyond. I thought about the stories I had heard from dozens of people who also had been targeted because of their race, religion or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of these thoughts caused me to feel some measure of doubt about whether we could make a difference and whether this gathering would even be remembered next week.
But then I looked into the faces of the people standing before me. Beautiful faces of beautiful people, gathered to transform tragedy into triumph and to bring Beloved Community into closer proximity. I thought about the people across the country who were gathering at the same exact time in solidarity picnics, supporting us in Atlanta as well as all those who have been targeted because of who they are. Then I looked over and noticed a small sign made by a child from my congregation that simply said, “Love Wins.” At that moment, I felt the sting of the previous memory of that space lessen and the feelings of doubt and despair melt away. The soothing balm of the new memory we were creating together covered me and I knew that in ALL things, love wins.
That day we left our fears behind for the afternoon and took a few steps down the path of love. We gave ourselves a small glimpse of the Beloved Community and I for one am transformed because of it. I have caught a few glimpses of it in the past and each time it leaves me longing for a more permanent view. There are countless others who work tirelessly for Beloved Community all around the world, and they too catch glimpses of it every now and then. May we find each other in our common quest, build the relationships that will bring us more glimpses until they merge together and form a permanent vision of a new reality with total relatedness, that transcends all demographics, embraces all, with justice for everyone, the alleviation of economic and social inequality, where everyone has the physical and spiritual necessities of life. The day of that reality is coming.....and I plan to be there to see it.