After the death of George Floyd on May 25, it seemed as though time stood still for a bit. TV screens once displaying news and updates of a pandemic immediately changed to immense coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests throughout not just the United States, but the entire world. Social media was filled by posts of support, as well as how to get involved and how to help make a change. In a world that seems so busy, where finding the time to stop and reflect on the state of our friends, neighbors, or communities takes a special effort, it feels unusual for everyone to be focused on one event. We live in a time where we often move on to the next event of our lives too quickly, losing our sense of urgency and commitment. However, for the past three weeks, everyone’s minds and hearts have been turned toward a civil rights issue that for years and years desperately needed the attention it’s only recently been receiving.
Since May 25, I along with many other students, decided to reflect on how we as individuals could do our part to help make racism an injustice of the past. In an effort to demonstrate my support, I showed up to a protest organized by a friend of mine. He posted on his social media account that he would be standing with a sign in downtown Alpharetta and welcomed anyone to join him. When I arrived, we were the only two protesters. Steadily throughout the afternoon, however, more and more people saw us and joined in solidarity. Since that day, I’ve noticed protesters standing on that same corner of downtown Alpharetta every time I’ve driven by. The idea led to a much larger protest organized by students of local high schools that occurred outside the city hall on June 10. Unlike the other protests I’d attended or driven by, however, at the very beginning of this protest, it began to pour, and loud cracks of thunder could be heard close by. I was amazed to find almost no one deterred by this storm. Everyone remained outside with their signs held up and their voices chanting.
In this moment, I thought of a book called Present over Perfect, that I’d recently read. Author Shauna Niequist writes how to be more present in the aspects of life that truly matter, like our relationships with God, family, and friends. I was reminded that now more than ever we need to be present in a fight for justice that directly affects our friends and families. The book also talks about the symbolic nature of water and the meaning it holds as a Christian. Jesus walked on water and children are welcomed into the church with Baptism. Water represents faith in God. Standing in the rain at that protest, my soul felt strengthened and I felt rejuvenated. I was reminded of God’s presence with me in this fight for justice. In times where it’s easy to become discouraged, knowing that God is with me and all those around me provides more comfort and hope than I could ever need. Amos 5:24 seemed to put to words the emotions I’d experienced during that rainy protest.