This week I had a show and workshop in St. Louis. I have two very dear friends that live there. Naturally I was happy to be able to spend some quality hang time with them. I had never been to St. Louis. I was told that everyone is really nice there. The people I worked with from the Jewish Community and the JCC there were exceptional. Ahh, but then there was Ferguson.
My husband asked me before I left, “Are you going to be ok?”
I laughed, “Of course I will.”
The night before I left I read a little, educated myself on what happened, made sure I was ready if someone asked me something about the “situation.” In a crazy way I was happy to read about this and take my focus off of Israel, but alas, that feeling was short-lived.
A black boy, killed in vain – a mom’s heart shattered, a policeman, instead of being color blind, is blinded by color and fear.
I learn that Ferguson was actually once an upper-class black neighborhood. African American doctors and lawyers. Suburbia at its best. And then time, economy, and life did what it frequently does. It shattered dreams, flushed out opportunity and left crime and poverty behind.
I arrive. My plane is filled with fresh high school graduates and their parents coming to start their college journeys. Sweet excitement is in the air.
It is hot and humid, my friends pick me up and it is bliss. In the car my friend asks me, “Is there a community you particularly love? Is there a place you have a soft spot for?” I babble this and that. I perform.
The next day my friends pick me up to go and see St. Louis. “Do you want to go to Ferguson?”
My inner Israeli pops out, “Aahhh are you asking me if I want to go die?” They know me; they laugh.
“No really, do you want to go to Ferguson?”
As I sit on the plane on the way home now, I cannot stop crying. I am a facilitator of change. I subscribe to so many newsletters and list serves and whatever Facebook pages of “do, be, go.” We all talk so much, too much.
What I saw yesterday expanded my heart to no end. My two fearless, beautiful friends drove right into the heart of Ferguson, without a care in the world. There were signs and posters all over the place. “We love you Ferguson. We are proud.” You know those signs, the signs that follow tragedy.
My remarkable friends walked in to the dollar store (mind you one of them was on crutches) only to find yet another woman from their community filling a cart with school supplies, pencils, notebooks. They all take out their wallets and pay with their personal credit cards.
We arrive at the local church where a makeshift community center is created. There is a magician doing a magic show for one group of kids. There are arts and crafts and snacks out. There are a few dozen kids playing, eating, being, being safe. I try to figure out who is in charge, and really, the people there are all like my friends – they just came to be, to help to change something, show support.
My friends ask “What do you need?”
“Lunch” someone says, “we need to serve lunch.”
“We are on it.”
As I sit now on the plane I know they are serving pizza where we were yesterday.
I am so proud.
I spent two astounding days in St. Louis. I found a community deeply committed to raising awareness of domestic violence and supporting survivors in the best of ways. I had lunch with a group of woman who literally put their money where their mouth is in the most meaningful thoughtful way that touched my core. And I saw my sweet, miraculous friends Elisa and Mindy in a new light.
In this broken, sad, violent, crazy world I continuously say and know there is good. We must find the good, be the good, but most of all we have to believe in it and fight diligently for it.
Margret Mead said, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Yesterday I saw that in action, I was honored to be part of it. I pray we brought comfort and I invite each and every one of you to join us.
Find your Ferguson, be present, give help of any kind or size, and show you care. Be the good. And help make this world the place it can and should be.
And, yes, Mindy, I have a special city, a city that made my heart sing. St. Louis.