It was the evening of April 4, 1968 – and I was almost five years old. Sometime that evening, with the news playing in the background I stood beside my mother’s chair and stared into her face as she cried softly.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed.
Was he a member of our family?
Did we know him?
Why did she look so sad, like “something good” had tragically ended?
Her tears were the earliest I remember arising from a sense of profound injustice.
I know tears. The summer before – summer 1967 – Newark erupted in a blaze of riots. I was four years old and I watched the rage of the circumstances play out on the faces of the adults around me. You do know that children growing up in trauma learn to watch the faces of the adults in their lives very carefully, don’t you?
I remember gun-carrying national guardsmen; people hurrying to get to safety. I remember angry cries, raging voices….adults with broken hearts and tear tracks etched on their faces.
Tears mean something to me today. People driven to tears – the tears that roll on the heels of injustice, deep mourning, brokenness, or the tears that literally pour out because of pent up rage — mean something to me because they mean something to God.
…he will wipe every tear from their eyes…(Rev 21:4) — is God’s promise that something will be done about the things that make us cry.