Sometimes we need to slow down, stop and follow the promptings.
I was back in my city, Minneapolis, to do some business, serve my friends in the homeless community and visit some folks in the midst of major, current life struggles.
As I was leaving one of my planned stops Wednesday evening, I was cutting across the south side of the city headed for 35W and suddenly noticed I was at 36th and Chicago, two blocks from the location of George Floyd’s last breaths here on this earth.
I was prompted – and honored the prompting – to turn south and stop in at 38th and Chicago, a place I visited the day I attended Floyd’s funeral and haven’t been near in a while. I pulled up a block short and walked the rest of the way. I smelled a fire; after all this is winter in Minnesota. There were two young women taking pictures of themselves and each other near the site of the tragedy.
Across the street was the source of the fire – some young folks were holding their daily vigil. I stopped to visit, introduced myself and they returned the favor. I asked what they do while there and one man replied, “We just check in with each other, go over the events of the day. Stuff like that.” It seems a small surrogate family was formed in this small group. They asked me why I was there, so I briefly explained my relationship with Floyd – as his recent friend and that he confided in me as a pastor.
I took my exit from the group. I stood, pondered and prayed across the street from Cup Foods. I thought of how many others before and since have been lost to unforeseen and unnecessary violence, too often at the hands of authorities called to protect us. Those serving as police officers have an incredibly difficult job – almost seems impossible currently. Yet there continues to be failures. The situations are complex and quick decisions are required. I don’t have the answers but I know that often when a problem seems complex, its often due to it being a series of problems requiring solutions. And a diverse group of people – age, race, sex, education, experience – creates the foundation for a team that can made gains on what we must do as a society.
As I spend most of my winter outside of Minnesota, I am stunned at the number of people that have negative opinions about the city I love and have lived in or near most of my life. And this isn’t just a Minneapolis problem. I wondered what if we could be a leader in determining an effective path forward rather than building on our reputation as “Murder-apolis”?
I don’t have a real outcome from this prompting, and I’m not sure that was the point. No specific action plan or new relationship created. But yet, I’m glad I stopped. I’m glad I slowed down from my busyness to think and feel; to allow the place and the moment to affect me. Perhaps if we took a little more time in reflection as a people, we might be additionally thoughtful in our choices and actions.