John Robert Lewis
I spent most of yesterday meditating on the life of John Robert Lewis.
Much was said in memorializing his life. Talking about his penchant for getting into “Good Trouble”. How he a mentor to those coming up after him to help them along their path. He truly was a gentle soul who put his life on the line repeatedly for the betterment of all. John Robert Lewis was a religious person who believed in expressing his belief through action that would transform the society in which he existed. Much of what shaped John Robert Lewis's life occurred on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on that fateful Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965. John Robert Lewis had been involved in Non-violent peaceful protest before that day and he knew what to expect from the authorities and he knew it would be violent and yet he continued across that bridge at the front of the march. Some say perseverance, courage, stubbornness but it was his faith that motivated his actions. John felt it was his reason for being on this earth he felt that in his soul. John felt that with each step and action others would join when they saw the righteousness of their cause. John had faith in his fellow man he knew that God wanted him right where he was and that gave him great comfort. While lying on the ground after having his skull cracked by the baton in his own words he saw death. His reaction was to pray not to relieve the pain but he pleaded with God to let him live and continue his work. In my religious upbringing, I always was fascinated by the story of the Garden of Gethsemane or Agony in the Garden. Jesus praying to his father to “...remove this cup from me...”. I always was curious why would Jesus who was divine pray to his father to not have him continue on his path? It took many years of understanding that this was a reflection of Jesus not only being divine but human. That this was his human quality praying to take the torture and humiliation and agony away and find a different path to accomplish his father's goal of redemption. Jesus's being divine knew what the path in store for him was going to be violent and tortuous. It was Jesus' human quality that was pleading for respite. We know the rest of that story but no one talks about the significance of the decision made by Jesus' humanness to continue on the path knowing what was to come. That decision was necessary and had to be made. It was Jesus's choice to be our saving grace.
How many of us have had the opportunity, as John did, to emulate Jesus' life and to march on knowing what was to come and to plead with his father in heaven to let him continue? John Robert Lewis gave us a gift that day and each day of his life moving forward. I believe we are all called to live our lives as Jesus modeled for us and to put our faith in action. John Robert Lewis was one of those lives which came very close to the life of the one in which he believed.
May we all strive to live a life like John Robert Lewis.