Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Freedom Ride

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 4: 1-4

I’ve been reading this book by Taylor Branch called Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. The book is essentially a biography of the Civil Rights Movement through the prism of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a fantastically brilliant work.

The book was given to me by Paula, the mother of a good friend of mine. We first met back in High School when she was my film study professor; but, we had our first real conversation on a fateful bus ride on a retreat that my school organized. On that bus we shared a lot of things. We got to know each other beyond the student teacher relationship. We got to know each other on a basic human level that transcends all boundaries.

Soon after this experience her daughter and I became good friends and we are still good friends to this day.

As I read through this book and came across the part about the Freedom Rides I was overwhelmed with emotion. I cannot fathom the courage it must have taken to ride through the South on interstate buses, blacks and whites together, to test integration. They were beaten to the edge of their lives in some cases, barely escaping southern white mobs. Tears of pride welled up in me as I thought about the integrated group of pioneers who embarked on that journey into a new racial frontier.

Simply amazing.

But then I thought about the wonderful woman who bought me the book I was reading. It was these same Freedom Riders that suffered the hard knocks necessary for her and I to ride together decades later, sitting next to each other on the front of the bus, as we talked for hours about life, the world, and our common dreams.

The riders paid the cost because they were not concerned with how the law of the land judged them. They acted with the conviction of people who know what is truly right, and will fearlessly defy earthly judges and magistrates trying to enforce their wrongs upon them. In their actions they proved to be true stewards of the mysteries of God.

It’s crazy how their stewardship allowed me to get on that bus and sit next to Paula. And years later Paula would guide me back to those Freedom Riders to help me unlock one of the mysteries of God:

There are no accidents. There are no chance occurrences. All that happens works out for the good of those who love the Lord. 


  1. Dear Clarence ox
    I am so touched by this post. I am so glad that we are friends and that you and Sky are friends "to this day." And for all the days to come. I remember being in Little Rock when Ben was about 11. It was a Holiday Inn....we were on the way to New Orleans from LA. Ben always loved going in the motel pool after a long day's driving. A man and his son were the only other people in the pool. He was standing on one side and I on the other as the boys met in the middle and played their hearts out. Our eyes met across the sides of the pool, and we both smiled. We both knew that in our childhoods, that would never have happened. It was a sweet, silent acknowledgement..full of quiet wonder.
    In this very polarized world, it's important to remember that this battle was not fought by politicians...it was engaged in by a combination of people of all faiths, races and political viewpoints who saw a moral issue. There is right, there is wrong. There is good, and there is evil. All the moral realativists can tell us, "well, in this or that culture...blah, blah, blah...and we can't judge...blah, blah, blah." But God made us discerning...He gave us discerning abilities. He gave us the universal language of the heart. And He gave us each other. Thank you for this beautiful post, Clarence. xoox

  2. You're welcome! and thank you for this great comment. I still look back on our long conversation very fondly. I also really appreciate all of the encouragement you have provided through the years. Thank you!


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