Shann was an A student but not a real reader when I met him and now he teaches in the PhD department of Gonzaga’s Leadership program reading 250+ paged dissertations. When we first were married, Shann jumped full steam into consuming copious amounts of books. He began reading all the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This was when we were living in Germany, and he was playing professional basketball. We visited the army base often, especially for movie night. On MLK day, they had a book sale on base with all of MLK’s writings. They were only $1 or $2 each at the time. Shann bought every book by MLK and thus began a deep dive into the life and mission of MLK.
Our favorite book is a collection of sermons called, Strength to Love. This book was seminal in how we wanted to impact the world. Having seen people I love bullied, harassed, dismissed, past-over because of the color of their skin has been infuriating to witness. I don’t believe you can love people and not grieve for the obvious hatred/disregard someone has for another person simply because of their skin color.
I love that Dad loved people from all walks of life. Dad loved people well. One way he did this was that he listened with curiosity and empathy to the experience of someone who lived a different life than he did. He listened with compassion. He didn’t try to justify or minimize their pain or their experience even when it was directed at him in anger or frustration. I watched him walk through ways he had been insensitive and blind to how his beliefs struck others negatively. I watched how he willingly listened and asked forgiveness for tonality or perspectives that hurt rather than healed. I loved the courage and expansiveness of my dad.
It brings me joy to think of Dad spending eternity with some of our biggest heroes who gave their lives to heal racial bigotry and hatred. I think of MLK, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, William Wilberforce, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Chief Seattle, Shusaku Endo, William Black Kettle, Rosa Parks, and ……
My brother sent me a quote for MLK Day, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Let’s add to that another of MLK’s beautiful pronouncements: “Hate cannot cast out hate. Only love can do that.”
“For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” I John 4:20