I write this on the eve of our national election. Regardless of the outcome, I must admit I am so ready for this to end. I had the great privilege to preach in three different settings this All Saint's weekend. In each I found myself drawn to, and using, the story and witness of Ruby Bridges, a 6 year old African-American who participated in the integration of the New Orleans Public Schools in November 1960, 48 years ago this month. I was born three years after this event. Ruby became the focus of one of Norman Rockwell's famous paintings, entitled, "The Problem we all live with." It is indeed a problem we live with, even today, and yet on the eve of this election, regardless of how it turns out, I hope we as a nation can step back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for just how far we have come. Even in my lifetime I have often been doubtful we would ever see a woman on a national ticket, much less a person of color. Don't get me wrong, I am as unhappy as most people at the negative tone these seem to always go too, although the irony of that is, all the studies show that the negative ads work, and that seems to say something about us.
Still, all the way around, I believe it has been a remarkable few months to watch and live through. It is still a "problem we live with" and we have quite a few more of those. However, perhaps we can move that "problem" and others to a new place of holy conversation and realistic vision. I hope so. I think of the witness of Ruby Bridges, and so many like her, a 6 year old black girl, who though the smallest figure in that famous painting, walked taller than them all. To survive the attacks which were made on her daily as she walked to school, a school where all the white teachers, save one, had refused to teach her, she said a prayer which her mother had taught her. Robert Coles, the child psychiatrist who volunteered to work with Ruby and her family through that time, asked her one day what she was mumbling as she walked through that crowd. She told him she was saying this prayer, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I give thanks for Ruby Bridges, for the saints in this story, the teacher that kept teaching against all odds, the black and white people who helped move this along in the face of so much inertia. No matter what happens tomorrow, we have all, collectively, witnessed a victory, and I pray now, we know more, that our blind spots are less, and that the horizon which our savior Christ has envisioned, that Kingdom of love and grace is a bit closer.