As I’m processing a day of training on offering support for caregivers, I find myself wondering again about how I got to this point in my faith journey and walk of life. I found myself today in a room of experts on aging – from a program manager with the Alzheimer’s Association who could rattle off every statistic about dementia-related diagnoses to retired and current state employees in the field of aging. And here I am…still trying to learn as much as I can about senior living and issues of aging so I can be a better resource for Older Adult Ministries with our Virginia United Methodist churches. And I feel so inadequate among this group. But here I am, called to this place at this moment to attempt to make a difference.
It’s at times like this that God usually puts someone or some situation before me to let me see where I have been and add a little light to the darkness. Today, that came from twin sisters, probably 10 – 12 years my senior, who were also in the training. They cheered when I mentioned in my introduction that I was originally from the Martinsville area. During a break, I shared with one of them that I was really from Fieldale. At which point, the question became “Where in Fieldale?”
I could see her eyes grow wider as I described our house just around the big curve up from Carver Road. “That holler is where our father grew up. So you must have gone to school at…” I finished her sentence before she could with “Carver.” Her eyes grew even wider. Now, their father – and the two sisters had they not lived in the city – would have gone to G.W. Carver High School when it was segregated. They would have been living in the holler with the segregated community swimming pool. The road that divided their side of the holler from our’s created a line that wasn’t crossed until I was in the second grade.
There we were: two opposite ends of the Boomer Generation having lived totally different experiences in the same little town. Now we find ourselves trying to become experts in caring for those who fought for justice and equality. And I wonder how I got here? I wonder if those fighting similar battles today will recognize how much we have in common instead of how different the concerns may seem? Forty-seven years have now come and gone since Carver High School first educated students of all colors, yet our talk today focused on a road that divided two areas of a tiny village.
My prayer is that the church will begin to lead in transformative conversations rather than continue to stoke the divisive fires – whether about race or human sexuality or politics or whatever else. There are too many roads that still divide. Too many eyes that still widen when controversial topics and history that we’d like to keep hidden are raised. All while a radical Jesus keeps calling us to live by the greatest commandment: love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbors – without any conditions…or roads to cross.