It is so easy to look around our country — our world, even — and feel overwhelmed with uncertainty, pessimism or downright fear. There have been enough viral outbreaks, dangerous storms and acts of societal unrest to make us all feel apocalyptic.
Every TV station seems intent on forcing us to become doomsday preppers. I honestly cannot remember when I have recently watched any news network without someone angrily yelling about something. Meanwhile, we have had many of our emotional outlets removed from our lives and we have been cooped up long enough to make us all stir crazy.
You know all of this, though. You are right in the middle of it as well.
But, today, I want to tell you a “good news” story. Trust me; it’s not the best or biggest news, but it is better than what you are normally seeing and hopefully that will do for now.
Last Saturday, my wife and I took our children to downtown Birmingham. A few years ago, the city put up a roughly 50-foot tall steel sign at the Rotary Trail welcoming visitors. Because of last week’s nationwide strife, more than 30 florists decided to decorate the sign with an array of gorgeous flowers as a symbol of healing and hope. So before I had to take my older three children back to their mother in Ohio that afternoon, we decided to check out the florally adorned sign.
As expected, there was a small crowd there already when we arrived. One young man was taking his graduation pictures and a few others were simply admiring the florists’ handy work.
One other older African American lady was having her picture made there, too. Our family waited on her to finish and we quickly snapped a few photos ourselves. If you know my wife, she’s not missing an Instragrammable moment.
As we walked out of the way for a new group to get photos of its own, the African American lady I mentioned earlier came up to us. At first, I thought she was simply getting in position for another picture. But then, she came up to my wife and, through her protective mask, and simply said, “Thank you.”
Before I could even ask what she was thanking us for, the lady pulled down her mask to show an incredible smile and continued, “Thanks just for being here.”
I was still a little confused, really, but my wife caught on quickly and she immediately thanked the lady right back. It then dawned on me this lady, whom we had never met before, wasn’t really thanking us for anything other than just being there — randomly, coincidentally with her, talking, smiling and just “being.”
From there, we struck up a conversation. She told us about her three sons — all of whom now live out west — and how she was born in Birmingham, moved away, but always wanted to move back so she eventually did.
She briefly began to elaborate on some tough times from her past as a black mother (and fears for the present for everyone) as her eyes glistened from moisture. She quickly shook those thoughts away, though, spread her arms, looked around and gestured to the now-larger, very diverse crowd meandering around the sign and said, “This feels good.”
We all spoke for a few more seconds before it was clear our 3-year-old needed something new to capture her young attention span and we all went our separate ways.
That’s it. That’s the story.
I warned you it wasn’t big. Nor did it help with any solutions to our country’s various issues. Those probably aren’t going away any time soon.
However, the moment did give us an opportunity to talk to our kids about what is going on in our country and why all of our humanity is not lost. I am very thankful even if for only about 10 minutes last Saturday, we could feel good about our future.