The first time I took my oldest son to a park, I watched him soak in the sights. Everything was new and exciting; the colors, the equipment, the kids. Once he got accustomed to the steps, ladders, and slides, I sat down at a nearby table and watched.
Within just a few minutes, an older boy began playing with my son. He was probably ten years old. I watched a few minutes and realized he had an obvious disability. At first I wanted to jump in. How dare that older child hone in on my son. He was too old to be playing with a two year old. Thankfully, however, I refrained and realized that this sweet young man was experiencing this park adventure just as my son was-with fresh, excited eyes. He simply saw a new friend to play with, just like my son.
Soon, the older boy went home and several younger kids showed up. Carter was running and playing. They chased each other and laughed, not once realizing that they all had skin that was different than their own. After a little while, the other kids left and Carter sat down to eat a snack. “Mama, I play friends,” he said.
I smiled. He has always called other kids his friends, even if he barely knows them. I asked him, “Which friend did you like playing with the most?” I waited and honestly expected him to describe the kids by skin color.
“Friend in blue shirt,” he replied.
Friend in blue shirt. Not black, white, brown, or yellow. He didn’t see it. He saw other kids. He saw friends. He didn’t care what they looked like. He didn’t care that their skin was different or even in the case of the older boy, that he acted different. He just wanted to have fun playing.
This week, as we honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., this is what I think about. I think of the innocence of children, who would never see color if we didn’t teach them how. I think of how far we have come as a society and how far we still need to move forward. I am grateful for King’s heart of peace and the great lengths he went to begin the journey of equality. I am grateful he gave his life trying to help America become even greater and to him, I give a huge thank you.
As we remember this great man, let’s all examine ourselves. Do we see a world of color and separate people like crayons in a box? Or do we see the world through eyes of a child; a world that is not separated by color, but a world that is filled with friends?
May God help us navigate this world seeing everything through the innocent eyes of a child.