See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called
children of God; And so we are. -John 3:1
Marceline and William Jones were two of the four Black residents of Sturgis, a small town in southern Michigan. They lived with and worked for my grandparents. I grew up loving them and being loved by them. Marceline blessed my heart, soothed my soul, and praised the Lord with great regularity. I followed her everywhere. She was at once strong and gentle, witty and wise, mentor and partner in crime. It never occurred to me that anyone would consider her inferior or that her life would be impacted by arbitrary restrictions.
When I was in high school, now living in Texas, my grandfather helped William get a job as the caretaker of the parks in Sturgis. A house was included. They moved and Marceline retired due to problems with her feet. Of course, communication never lapsed. Then while I was away at college, my mother called to tell me a story about Marceline and William. There had been a tragic car accident resulting in the deaths of a couple in the congregation of their church. A daughter, Sarah was left behind. I think she was around eight. She had no other family. Sturgis had no foster care program. If someone wouldn't offer to adopt her, she would be turned over to the county and thus taken away from her from her friends, her school, and the only people she knew. Just one couple stepped forward. The only Black members of the congregation, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, agreed to raise this precious White child as their own.
I followed their story with fascination, awe and some concern. This was in the 1950's! Fast forward several years. I visited Sarah and Marceline.. Sarah, spoke lovingly about her mom and dad, her friends, her success in school, and her goal to attend college. Indeed, she graduated from Western Michigan University. During those years she came home often, brought roommates and boyfriends to family celebrations, and invited her parents to campus for special events. She eventually married a fellow graduate and had children of her own. The last time I was with Marceline, I had my boys with me much to her delight. She had come to love them too. She told me she prayed every night that the Lord would take her so she could join William “When I open my eyes in the morning, I ask Him why am I still here? Oh well, old as I am, it's still hard to argue with Him.”
How I wish I could talk with this amazing woman as we struggle with the racial issues of today. She taught me so many lessons about living and loving. I know I would learn from hearing her thoughts and feelings. I am truly blessed to have had her in my life. She walked the walk faithfully and fearlessly. I'm sure of one thing, she would want me to do the same.
Heavenly Father, you created us, all of us. Fill our hearts with love, so there is no room for hate. Fill our minds with understanding, so there is no room for fear. Fill our eyes with wonder, so that we may see only uniqueness not strangeness; so that we may love, understand and enjoy our fellow brothers and sisters to your glory. All this we ask in Christ's name. Amen.
-From a prayer by Susan K. Beckley