This Mission Moment is shared by Good Shepherd member Sara Ritter:
I had an interesting encounter yesterday while grocery shopping, and it’s been in my head ever since and so I need to share it. I tried twice to tell this story verbally and both times I ended up cutting it short because I got weepy. Not sad, just overcome with emotion because this exchange broke my heart in a good way. Just busted it wide open. I can’t tell the story without my voice wavering, but I also can’t NOT tell the story.
While I was shopping I noticed a black woman and a small child. The kid was strutting his approximately three-year-old stuff and grinning at everyone. The woman was greeting anyone they passed with some loving words. I heard her say “peace be with you” and “love one another” and “ God bless you”.
And for the most part I saw people ignoring her.
Eventually we crossed paths and as she got close she looked right at me and said, “I love you.” I stopped, looked her in the eye, and said, “I love you, too.” And I felt it. I really meant it.
Her eyes teared up (so if course mine did too) and she got the biggest smile on her face and said thank you. She thanked me for seeing her. And for hearing her. And for showing her some love, because “this is how we heal and grow…this is how we move forward.”
She went on to say, “Isn’t it funny? I can share all this love and peace and nobody cares, but if I were making a scene you know I’d have all eyes on me then.”
I sheepishly agreed and said, “I’m sorry. You deserve better.”
She said, “I’m sorry, too. This violence is not what we wanted and it’s drowning out our message.”
I didn’t know what to do or say in that moment. Without thinking I asked if she’d like to pray with me. And so we did. Right there in the frozen pizza aisle.
We prayed for justice and peace.
We prayed for change and growth.
We prayed for open hearts and open minds.
We prayed for our leaders.
We prayed for wisdom.
We prayed for public health and safety.
Her last prayer was that her son would grow up to be a good man, and that the world would see him as a good man and not as a black man.
Before we parted ways I asked her, “In your opinion, what is the best way I can help?”
She said, “Just keep seeing us. And hearing us. And loving us. Just let the love be your guide.”
So that’s what I’m going to do. And now I ask you to join me. Love still wins. Peace, love, and frozen pizza.
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