Life is filled with these tremendous ironies. There are times when only distance provides enough context with which to learn the lessons that they provide.
Wyshina Harris was laid to rest on yesterday. Wyshina was a beautiful, generous young lady who was shot and killed on last Saturday on her way to work.
So often, in the black community, we take it on ourselves to remind young African-Americans that all of us - relatives, neighbors, church members - all of us want them to 'make it'. We all want them to be successful. But once they have made it, we want them to know its important to give back. To share their success: their time, their talent and their treasure with those who are trying to make it.
Hardly anyone would think that Wyshina 'made it'. She had gotten out of the Turner Courts public housing development, but she was still a single mother trying to make a life for herself and her two young children. But Wyshina didn't try and wait until she made it to give back. While she was trying to make it, she was trying to take people along with her. She was giving to young people in our After School Academy and she was helping to recreate the community by organizing them to take control of their neighborhoods. That's right - she was morphing into one of those community organizers who had be so derided this past summer.
I went to view her remains Friday and thought about her wonderful spirit and the gift that God had given to all of us in her. I went to the viewing because I wouldn't be able to attend the funeral services. I had committed weeks ago to officiate a wedding of a young man whom I served as pastor for more than 20 years.
"Q" as we call him, is the same age as Wyshina. He overcame some of the anger and bitterness he experienced when his parents divorced, went to college at Texas Tech and received not only his bachelors degree, but two masters degrees. Until the recent DISD layoffs he was giving back as a teacher.
He and his beautiful bride had no idea about Wyshina. They had no idea that while I was presiding over their joyful celebration, several miles away there was another family mourning a tragic loss and the circumstances surrounding it. And the family at the 'homegoing service', had no idea of the proceedings in Grapevine that spoke of hope, new life and a great future.
They were happening at virtually the same time and in a very strange way, I was a part of both of them.
How do you reconcile the two? I don't know. Perhaps you don't, only except to say that there is truth to the cliche that 'Life Goes On'.
There was another thing remarkable about the wedding, that was impressive in this context:
The groom is black. The bride is white.
I think that too is part of the irony. Perhaps it is a harbinger of things to come. Not immediately. But certainly eventually. Perhaps (even though an interracial marriage is no earth shattering phenomenon now), it means a more definitive closing of attitudes and mindsets that made isolated life in Turner Courts a part of Wyshina's reality.
Perhaps the more we see people like 'Q' and his bride, the more we will realize that the joy and love of humanity transcends our petty differences and artificial boundaries. Perhaps it means that life not only 'goes on', but it goes on in glorious and surprising new ways, with glorious and surprising new realities. I don't know about the bride's family, but I do know 'Q' 's family would not have welcomed this wedding 15 years ago.
We don't know the color of Wyshina's murderer. That doesn't matter. Whomever it is, he or she should be brought to justice.
But what I saw yesterday is, for me, slow but sure comfort, that the person who murdered her cannot take away all joy, or make life totally miserable, or a total tragedy.
People of every hue, stripe and background transcended artificially imposed differences to express their love for and celebrate the life of a fallen soldier in the fight to make life better for all of us. People of every hue, stripe and background joined together to celebrate the new life of a new couple.
Tears of sorrow, mingled with tears of joy.
Life inexorably moved on.