Word Up Wednesday: Rise by Lifting / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in January 2016. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
— Ecclesiastes 4:12

Tomorrow marks what would have been the eighty-seventh birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some years ago, in my quest to learn more about his life and the civil rights movement, and to visit the site of his death, I spent the day at the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee, which is now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum. I remember being awestruck as I entered the museum. In the lobby was a sculpture. The sculpture—fashioned of bronze, weighing 7000 pounds—stands at least 15 feet tall. If you can imagine, it is a wall—with thousands of people all headed in the same direction, trying to reach the top of the mountain. What is striking about the sculpture is that each person is touching another person. There is no one who is not connected to another. What is also striking is that no one has reached the top, but those at higher elevations are not only facing the direction of the goal, but they are reaching their arms back to lift others who are on the journey. They don’t stop gaining heights, but in fact are lifted and strengthened and held up because they are connected to others who they are helping.

The sculpture is not only a visual representation of the civil rights movement, but it also embodies one of my favorite quotations which says, “We rise by lifting others.” Each of us has been helped by others, and each of us have reached out to lend our help to others who were in need. Can you recall a time when you’ve helped someone else—offered an encouraging word, flashed a smile, sat with them in pain or distress, ran an errand when they were unable? How often in those times have we ourselves been bolstered and strengthen by helping others. Helping others lifts our spirits. Helping others inspires us to do better and be better. Helping others reminds us that we are part of a greater human family. 

Movement to Overcome, National Civil Rights Museum (photo from Flkr)

Movement to Overcome, National Civil Rights Museum (photo from Flkr)

Indeed, “We rise by lifting others.” Today I invite us to lend our heads, our hearts, and our hands to helping the people around us. For in helping others, we ourselves are lifted, strengthened, and transformed. 

May I share a prayer with you?

Gracious God, we are so grateful for your presence in our lives. Open our senses to the needs of those around us. Use us we pray, to be a help—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—to all who need to be lifted. As we lift others, grant us your abiding peace, love, and joy that lifts our spirits. When we are in low places, send others who will give of themselves to help us.  Amen.