Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:21-23
Three years and seven months ago, my husband and I closed on our first house and moved to the smallest town I’ve ever lived in. The town has all the same problems as the world at large on a smaller, more intimate scale. We struggle with racism, income inequality, violence, climate change, food insecurity, immigrant rights, political divisions and more. I’ve been known to joke that those struggles were the reason I moved here in the first place. I figured that if I could help solve those problems in a small town of less than 10,000 people, there would be hope for the rest of the world.
Most days, this small town looks much like the rest of the world. The last few months have brought us Covid-19 pandemic infections that rival larger urban areas (when proportionally adjusted for our population). Amidst the murders of black women and men around our nation and systemic racism, Facebook posts from local friends reflect the same news articles and resources posted by urban friends. My default “hope setting” has stayed on something like Hebrews 11:1 describes.
Last night, though, was different. Undeterred by nationwide reports of violence at similar events, a few young women from our local high school organized a peaceful protest and march to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Hundreds of community members gathered at the town square and walked down Main Street to condemn the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless victims whose names go unreported or unremembered by a society that so often fails to value people of color. I listened as the young women spoke before the event. I listened as our police chief and another officer spoke out against police brutality and marched with us, while others directed traffic and handed out water to the marchers. I walked down Main Street with a crowd extending past my line of vision, and I came face to face with a determined hope. It’s a big deal when the marching crowd seems as large as the turnout for Bacon Fest and the Prime Beef Festival parade. (They’re two separate things, because why not?)
We haven’t solved the world’s problems. Cities are still burning around our country, threats to life threats abound. Here, though, there is hope for our world. Refrains of “We Shall Overcome” could be heard in the crowd. Cheers of “Vote, Vote, Vote” lingered as we dispersed. The work has begun, it will continue, our shared humanity depends on our building beloved community. We may be starting small, but we have big visions and a deep, liberating hope.