I’ve been wanting to share this special moment for so long now. Be prepared to be moved to your core, as I was.
Sitting at a memorial for a very special friend, the buttoned-down gray-haired man stood up to speak to us about the African-American friend we’d all lost. This was in an A.M.E. Church, in which most of the white folks, as my husband and I are, sat in the back. Weird, huh? But Carter my consort and I didn’t, that’s not who we are. Maybe the rest of the whites felt strange being there, but we didn’t. Maybe that was because Everett was our daughter’s best friend’s father, and when our kids were young (they’re now 30) we all felt each other was family. Carter and I had moved away from our hometown almost a decade before this day, of Everett’s funeral. Sadly, not even sixty, he’d succumbed too soon to a stroke.
After introducing himself as Everett’s supervisor at work — where everyone in this sea of strangers was a mutual friend, as special, each one of us, one-on-one to our pal, as Everett’s closest friends and family — the white man said: “Indulge me, and close your eyes. Imagine Everett standing right before you, right now. Go ahead.” And we did. Not a hard thing to do when the living are not that long dead. “Now hear Everett say to you as he looks you right in the eye with that big sincere grin of his: ‘You are the most important person in the world, and I love you!”
Every single person in the church, black or white, felt Everett’s love for him- or herself. I certainly did. Carter told me later he did, too. Because it was easy to imagine this affable, sweetly-smiling man, Everett, a man who had time for everyone and anyone, to do such a thing and say such caring words. Although, he never had to. His smile and gaze said it for him.
The speaker went on saying this n’ that about how great Everett was, telling how he made everyone feel at ease, quoting some scripture, making us laugh, something anyone at a packed-church funeral knows is rare and gratifying. Finally, the last sheet of paper was being turned as the gray-haired guy spoke.
“Indulge me one last time, please. This time with you eyes wide open.” And we did, every last one of us.
“I want you to turn to your neighbor in your pew, man or woman, and look them right in the eye, and say, ‘You are the most important person to Everett, and I love you.'” And we all did.
With those words, I felt the love this man felt for each one of the people there. And instantly, I felt love for every person, strangers all, except for our daughter’s weeping friend and her mother and brother.
What this speaker reminded me about, is what any speaker, I”m sure, could say about any of us. How each of us can love the person right in front of us, black or white, straight or gay, friend or assumed foe. How easy we can love those close to us. But with practice, and a little urging to do so, we can go further. We can look strangers, any one!, each and every human, another, the “other” in the eye and say, “I love you” as easily as that. I felt my heart, my life expand, by doing this.
Know that the world isl be a better place for all of us doing this. People like Everett who have gone before us, spent their time here on earth, reminding us. How important it is to … Love One Another.
In case you don’t know it … I love you!
Toward the One, the perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty: the only Being. United with all the illuminated souls, who together form the embodiment of the master, the Spirit of Guidance. (the Sufi Invocation, one of my favorite prayers)
Love your neighbor as yourself!
Remember, smile! Spread the joy.
Help heal the world with each glance, each token of kindness you extend to a stranger.
If he can do it, so we we!
So can you, so can I
We can heal our world, one person at a time.
We Are One.