*Please forgive all typos. Blogging while on a bus that smells like feet while moving is not easy or necessarily pleasant for that matter.
Monday morning came early. Very early. It wasn’t without more doughnuts, though. Monday also came with even more heat. And sweat. There was that…
We piled onto the bus after dropping the keys off at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, where they were MORE than gracious about hosting us. There’s something wonderful about sleeping in churches. For one part, it is sort of creepy. There are nooks and crannies everywhere you look, weird noises at night, and hallways that seem to have no end. On the other hand, they are open spaces where its safe for kids and youth to run around and scream and let it all out. There are games to play, sofas to curl up on, cold hallway floors to sit on and chat all night; and you know that while God is present everywhere, God is especially present in churches where children sleep.
Oh, and God is present on buses where children and youth sleep too… (they might kill me for posting these, but its a risk I’m willing to take to show you how adorable they are; and they are completely aware that these were taken)
The drive down into Alabama clearly called for the movie Selma, which helped give some context to our next stop. We arrived in Selma, AL, to the beautiful sunshine. And the heat. For those of you in Chicago, imagine sitting in a sauna with your clothes on. If you were glasses, it’s even more tricky. They start to slide off your face as the sweat rolls down your back and the sunscreen starts to slide off your legs. It’s about as lovely as an angry warthog. Which, I imagine, is not very lovely.
While our grand dreams of finding a park and making sandwiches was dwindling, we found food salvation in the form of Zaxby’s Chicken. Now, if you’ve never eaten Zaxbys, it’s no Chick-fil-a, but it sure is good. There was no part of any one of us that was going to get off the bus, to sit outside and eat our sandwiches and granola. While eating sandwiches would have been an option, there was the problem of the assembly. In the heat. Again, not happening. Luckily, everyone was thrilled. It is easy to please youth when they are tired, sweaty, and you make them wear a neon green t-shirt so you can get the photo. Oh, and Zaxby’s is perfect for pretty much all food types, there’s something for everyone.
After our chicken excursion, we made our way to AME Brown Chapel on MLK Drive in Selma, AL. Have you ever noticed that wherever there is an MLK Drive, it’s usually not the part of town where fancy restaurants are, or the tourist section? Just think about it…. Brown Chapel was nested among the Selma public housing.The people who lived here were the ones who were most active and supportive of those marching on the road from Selma to Montgomery. They housed and fed the people who came from near and far to march. And yet, the feeling of equality did not feel to have reached that particular area.
While we adults were worried about the heat, most of the youth
wanted to walk to the bridge. This is how Dr. King and the marchers did it, so this is how they wanted to do it. Who can say no to that? So, we marched. It was a slower pace, and the mood was a bit lighter than I imagine it was on those chilly days in March 1965, but we marched.
We walked through the downtown, past the small restaurants, the show repair shop, and the new welcome center and met at the foot of the bridge. We gathered together and reflected on the past, and what the future could possibly hold. After hearing the words of the Gospel of John 15:9-13, we marched in silence across the bridge.
As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life to one’s friends.
We ended our march on the other side at the Selma Voter’s Rights Museum.After our hot march and museum visit, we made our way to Montgomery and saw the spots along the road where the marchers camped for the nights of their march. Once in Montgomery, we stopped in at the Alabama capitol, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Memorial, and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Again, it was hot, but we soaked it all in!
From Montgomery, we made our way to our home for the night, another lovely church, First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, AL, where we were greeted by the lovely Rev. Cat Goodrich, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian. She showed us our sleeping arrangements and where we could find out true respite for the night: the showers of the YMCA across the street. After showers and burgers made together in the kitchen, we gathered around for Rev. Goodrich’s talk on the history of the church and
its role in the civil rights movement in Birmingham, and then celebrated the birthday of one of our youth. After which, we proceeded to let loose and goof off. That is, of course, after we cleaned quite well.
Again, we found ourselves in an old church for the night. There were strange noises, air-conditioning (praise to the almighty Lord!), and nooks and crannies to sleep in. God was definetly there in our superman prayers and in our late-night conversations. And thanks to the hospitality of FPC Birmingham, we were well rested to get our start this morning… but we’ll tell you about that later.
I am sure there is so much more to tell you, but that will just have to wait. We have to keep the suspense after all.