I rode the elevator with America. The elevator I rode is one in Houston, TX at MD Anderson Hospital. It was one of many elevators. I happened to be on it because I had parked the car and was headed to the waiting room on the 7th floor of the hospital where Sheri had an appointment.
The America I rode the elevator with was not the 70s rock group, America, who had such great hits as “Horse with No Name” and “Ventura Highway.” There were three members of that rock band, one has since died. I suppose we could have all fit on one elevator, but as far as I know they weren’t in Houston at that time and were not on the elevator.
The America I rode the elevator with was not the 320 million people who make up America. The elevator was not large enough for 320 million people. I think it said capacity was 12 or so.
There were about ten of us on it. The America I rode the elevator with was a sampling of America. All ten of us shared one thing in common. We were all sick with cancer or we were the loved one of someone who was sick with cancer. The first people on the elevator was a black couple. He was in a wheelchair, his loved one, his spouse I assume, was pushing. They smiled at me. I returned it. I felt like hugging them. I wanted to say “Good luck.” To my right was a Hispanic couple. He was sick because I could see a bandage around his throat beneath his shirt. I could have tried out my Spanish, “Hola, como estas?” I didn’t. Thank goodness I didn’t.
There was a lady in front of me, nationality unknown. She was wearing a scarf because she had lost her hair to chemo.
The other three or four people on that elevator looked kind of like me, without the beard/mustache. All were either very sick or the loved one of someone who was sick. We stopped on several floors as some got off and others stayed on. We were all headed to a waiting room or testing room. I felt a quick bond with everyone and wanted to give them a hug. We were all in the same boat or same elevator, if you will. If we had spent more time together, I think we would have exchanged emails, snuggled and said, “I love you.”
The street I live on in Carrollton resembles that elevator. I’m glad. We have African-American families, three on my street. We have an Asian family on my street. We have a single woman, a young single man, an older single man, Baptists (me), and other assorted folk.
What would “love my neighbor” or “love my elevator” look like?
It will mean loving someone who does not look like me, talk like me, believe like me, or think like me.
The challenge that you and I have in doing that is nothing new for us or for churches. The church has always had that challenge. Read Acts 15 to see how the early church struggled about who to let in. Gentiles??
The church of my childhood struggled in the 60s with who to let in. Blacks??
Really?? Why can’t we get this right?? It’s high time that Christians and churches stand up and be counted. It’s time for ministers to preach against racism and to preach “justice for all.” It’s not ok to sit on our hands and passively say we are against racism; no, we need to do more. To quote my good friend, Greg Deloach, Dean of the School of Theology at McAfee: “For too long white people have been sitting when they needed to take a stand, standing when they needed to step aside, and kneeling when God called them out.”
We need to make friends with others from another race and have them into our homes. Or better yet go into theirs. We need to listen to them as they tell their story from an angle that me and most of my white friends have never heard. We need to do something to identify with the poor; maybe we aren’t really Christians until we have done that. That something might be to volunteer at the Soup Kitchen or Open Hands. We need to ask God to fill our hearts with his love, a love that covers this earth time and again and welcomes all.
And maybe you would want to ride an elevator with someone who is really sick and for a moment, put yourself in their shoes.
Dr. Steve Davis