In the past month and a half, I have attended nearly a half-dozen funerals of people who were very dear to me. It kind of gets you thinking about how fleeting this life is — and that even if we live to be more than 100, life is still short.
I don’t mean to dampen your spirit. And I certainly don’t want to sound morbid. I know that death is a part of life. But in addition to my friends dying natural deaths, there are those who are dying violently in the streets of our cities across the nation. This is the saddest of all.
It seems that every day of the week somebody dies from gunshots. It isn’t just the lawless thugs who roam our streets looking for trouble. This violence thing has grown to include some trigger-happy police officers who shouldn’t be in law enforcement. I can’t explain away the shootings of innocent bystanders (especially our children) in drive-by incidents. Nor can I explain the recent shootings of unarmed men in our cities streets by the men and women who are suppose to be up-holding the law.
I am still haunted by the scene of an innocent man lying on his back in a North Miami street, hands up and unarmed, begging not to be shot. He was shot anyway. I can still hear the voice of a wife of another victim crying out to the police, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” as the office aimed at, shot and killed her husband.
By the same token, I can’t explain away the revengeful acts of violence against those law enforcement officers who are doing all they can to live up to the badge they wear every day. It is usually the good guys who take the beating for the guys who don’t seem to care.
If I were to look at the situation through dark glasses, it would be enough to make me want to give up on humankind. Instead, I choose to look at the situation through clear, not rose-colored, glasses. And what I see are many people who have lost the ability to love others as they love themselves. Nobody seems to know how to put themselves in another person’s shoes anymore.
And too many people seem to have too short a fuse. So much so, that some of my friends tell me that if they are at a traffic light and it changes and the car in front of them doesn’t move, they won’t use their car horns to blow at the driver. It just might make the driver angry enough to shoot. It isn’t funny. Road rage actually happens. Right here on our streets.
So, as I write this column, I am thinking: Do other lives matter? Not just black lives, but all lives. And what does your own life matter?
These are the questions that have caused me to pause this morning and take stock of my own life. What am I doing with my time here on earth? Am I using the time allotted me well? Am I making a difference in somebody’s life? Do I say, ‘I love you’ and ‘Thank you’ enough?
I don’t know why I am going this way. Perhaps it is because I am at an age now in which many of my peers are dying, people I grew up with and played with when we were children. Maybe it is because I know death is final. That it isn’t a movie script where the good cowboys, wearing white 10-gallon hats, take out the bad cowboys wearing the black hats, and then come back to appear in another shoot’em up movie.
On a happier note, as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I am so thankful for the life given me. But just occupying a space on Planet Earth isn’t enough for me. I want to leave a positive mark when I am gone. I want my family to remember me as someone who tried to instill in them the ways of loyalty and love and kindness towards others. I want them to remember the times we spend together, just getting to know each other, of them listening to my stories and laughing at the funny ones.
But God willing, I will say as the poet said: “I have miles to go before I sleep.”
AME TEMPLE GIFTS A ‘GESTURE OF LOVE’
Kudos to Immanuel Temple for giving 800 gift bags to local police officers.
According to the Rev. John F. White II, pastor of the church, the gifts were a “gesture of love, respect and community”.
The gift bags were presented Sept. 29 and included snacks, gum, water, pens, pads, a personal letter offering prayer for the officers and their families and other items to police officers in Opa-locka, Miami Gardens, Miramar, Hollywood and Pembroke Pines.
The gesture is a part of Immaneul Temple’s on-going LOL (Love out Loud) commitment. “With these gifts, we’re extending LOL as a way of sharing the love of Christ with members of law enforcement in our community,” White said.
The members of the church, friends and local busineses have been instrumental in supporting, planning, donating, assembling and distributing the LOL gift bags.
Immanuel Temple is a ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal church and is located at 7040 Pines Blvd. in Pembroke Pines. White and his wife, the Rev. Maria Mallory, share the leadership of the church. Worship services are at 7:30 and 10 a.m. each Sunday.
Call 850-212-2573 for more information.
WORSHIP SEMINAR OCT. 15 IN HOMESTEAD
You are invited to a worship seminar hosted by Silver Palm United Methodist Church in Homestead on Oct. 15.
The seminar will be led by nationally acclaimed worship expert, author and speaker Tom Kraeuter. It is open to everyone who is interested in learning more about worship or desiring a stronger relationship with God.
The event starts 8:30 a.m. with registration and ends at noon. An additional, smaller group session for those directly involved in worship ministry will be from 1 to 3:30 p.m., and will be more interactive, focusing on questions and situations that worship leaders and teams face each week. Attendance to the morning worship seminar is a prerequisite to attending the afternoon session.
For more information and to register, call the Rev. Diane Gutierrez at 305-247-3769 or 786-427-9173 or visit WorshipSeminar.com. Silver Palm UMC is at 15855 SW 248th St. in Homestead.
HOLOCAUST FILM SERIES IN SOUTH BEACH
The Holocaust Film Series will open 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, at 1130 Washington Ave., with the presentation of Miami Jewish Film Festival Audience Award winner “When Day Breaks.”
Prior to the screening, an introduction will be given by Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, director of the Holocaust Teacher Institute at the University of Miami. Screenings are one night only and the event is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you go, you must RSVP in advance because of limited seating.
For more information on the film festival and Film Society membership, email email@example.com or call 305-573-7304.
‘A NEW COVENANT OF PEOPLE’ ON OCT. 22
A presentation of “A New Covenant People” will be given by St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 22 at the church, 9200 SW 107th Ave.
The presentation is geared to the active layperson and will be presented in three parts, with one session focusing on a Catholic life of personal, practical discipleship by integrating spirituality, community through parish and God’s call.
The even will be presented simultaneously in English and Spanish. It is free and no reservations is required. Everyone is welcome. Call John Maine at 305-412-1250 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHARMETTES CONTRIBUTE TO CANCER CENTER
The Miami-Dade County chapter of The Charmettes has donated $500 to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center toward cancer research and treatment. The presentation kicked off the chapter’s annual efforts to eradicate cancer and is a part of the organization’s national initiative of cancer awareness.
The organization’s next cancer-focused event will be a Pink Tea Fundraiser at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex, 3000 NW 199th St. in Miami Gardens, 3 p.m. Oct 16. The theme is “Women of Faith Praying for a Cure.”
For tickets and more information, contact event chairwoman Charmette Edwina Pace at 305-323-6765.
COMMUNITY RACE DIALOGUES IN MIAMI SHORES
The community is invited to Unity 369, a series of community race dialogues to be presented 9 a.m. Saturdays from Oct. 15 through Dec. 3 at Brockway Library, 10021 NE Second Ave. in Miami Shores.
Unity 360 is a series of community discussions about the ways in which race and racism shape American society and impact daily interactions. If you go, you’ll learn skills to identify racism and formulate responses that create a foundation for empathy and understanding.
Unity 360 is a Miami Shores People of Color program. For more information contact the library at 305-758-8107 or email email@example.com
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.