We were in Selma, Alabama, to see the Edmund Pettus Bridge and maybe have our flagging hope revived. He stood in our way beside a card table in the sweltering heat. A man of his advanced age could have only been out in the midday sun to hawk cheap souvenirs. His wrinkled arm beckoned. I rushed by to evade his pitch but failed at avoiding eye contact.
“Sorry, sir, I don’t want to buy anything,” I told him. “No,” he said, pursuing me, “just come and see what I did.” Now I was curious.The church needs nearness and proximity, Pope Francis says, if we are to heal wounds. Only by drawing near to the one waiting at the well will we find the living water we thirst for. Click To Tweet
George Sallie’s table was strewn with photos, news clippings, certificates, and programs bearing witness to what this 93-year-old man had done on March 7, 1965. He was one of the “foot soldiers” who tried to march from Selma to Montgomery for the Black community’s right to vote. He took off his cap to show us a long scar across his bald head, his own souvenir from the violent attack at that bridge which stopped the marchers, but not the movement.
“This is my holy ground,” he said. “I pray for people here. I tell them the story.”
The church needs nearness and proximity, Pope Francis says, if we are to heal wounds. Only by drawing near to the one waiting at the well will we find the living water we thirst for.