Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Martin Luther King Day Remembrance

When I was a senior in college I did an internship with the King Center. Those three months of service and study in Atlanta changed my life. King's philosophy of Nonviolent Social Change tends to show up in my fiction. To celebrate MLK day here is a favorite selection I took out of my novel Acts of Grace .

Excerpt Two :

The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death
Oscar Wilde

After such knowledge, what forgiveness
T.S. Elliot

I have this memory left over from the hospital, Mr. Gilmore, that I feel I should share with you. I’m not even sure if it is real. It has the texture of being a figment of fever, trauma, drugs and remnants of Bible verses. I believe I was coming out of unconsciousness after surgery. I felt myself trying to shove aside the darkness the way you push away dirt to get out of a hole. Eventually I saw a circle of light with Monroe’s face stamped on it, and I stopped digging

“Exactly why did I save him?” I shouted up to Monroe.

“Love,” Monroe shouted back, “but not the kind of love one has for God or friends or lovers but Agape the love of redemptive good will for all people. It’s the kind of love that makes it possible to save an enemy.”

“Like when Jesus said love your enemy.”

“Yes,” Monroe replied, then I heard him chuckle “Dr. King once said that we should be happy Jesus didn’t say “Like your enemies, because like is such a sentimental and affectionate word. King’s view was that it was hard, perhaps impossible to be affectionate toward a person whose avowed aim is to crush you. Agape love allows us to get past the hate. It allows us to recognize the fact that all life is interrelated, all humanity involved in a single process. You did what one human sister should do for a brother.”

"I’m tired of being so damn magnanimous.”

“I know, Rabbit.” he told me, “but it’s important that you are.”

Love I am beginning to learn Mr. Gilmore is stronger than death and even a greater mystery than life.

Originally posted Jan 2008