As I reach the last of the long list of links to stories about so much that has happened in just one week, whose picture should be staring out at me, but that of my hero of heroes, John Lewis!!!
A film has been made about one of the finest men of all times!! I immediately gift my dear filmmaker son, Justice, with the rental, and then preorder the film for Ken and me. I’m spending $24 on a movie I can only watch once!!! But oh, how much I am looking forward to it!! This piece of history must never die. And there is a special reason why.
I can see myself meeting John Lewis once, five or six years ago. He is receiving a humanitarian award at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly from the UU Service Committee. Cornel West is presenting it. Two brilliant minds in the same evening! Rep. Lewis is seated at a table alone on the stage waiting for West and the host of the event to arrive. The crowd is busy chatting and eating a box dinner. We are about 300-400 people in a large ballroom in a huge convention center in Portland. Rep. Lewis, sits alone, patiently waiting.
Suddenly I decide this is a chance I cannot pass up. I hand my dinner to my husband, saying, “Hold this, please. I’m going to shake this man’s hand!” And I head right up the center aisle and approach the low stage.
I reach up onto the small table behind which John Lewis sits and thrust out my hand, nervously. “Representative Lewis, I just have to shake your hand. I admire you so much and I’m thrilled to be able to meet you in person!”
He grasps my hand lightly, but firmly. I can still feel his hand, the memory of that moment ever vivid in my mind. I marvel at how smooth, soft and warm it is. How can this be the hand of a man who has worked just about as hard as any human can for justice? This man once beaten within a few seconds of losing his life, his warm hand nearly turning cold in death?
He holds my hand in his for the whole time I stand there, my knees shaky and my eyes welling with tears. Time seems to stop as I stumble through words of praise and thanks and admiration, like a schoolgirl meeting a treasured pop star. I hope I’m not making a fool of myself, but his hand is so warm and smooth I just can’t let go. I feel a quiet stream of love and gratitude.
Then, Cornel West and the UU Service Committee president come onto the stage, laughing and talking. I smile at this special man once more, and he smiles back at me. I thank him again for the sacrifices he has made for the freedom of us all. Our hands slide apart, slowly and silently, and I return to my seat.
There really is nothing more to say. It is a day I’ll never forget, and now I look forward to seeing this film, having relived that moment.