We Are All Connected: A Note from Rev. John Crestwell

Hello, DRUUMM family,

I want to share two stories from my recent sabbatical. I hope my words provide you with good thoughts and feelings.

My sabbatical started and ended with a bang! On April 4th, I went to Memphis for five days to visit the place where we lost our King. I stayed at the Lorraine Motel, now an incredible museum that captures the entire Civil Rights Movement in such detail. I was able to see where King died – my reason for going was to put closure on the journey. I’ve been to many historic places that impacted the movement – DC, Montgomery, Selma, Atlanta, but never to Memphis.

The highlight of this trip came on my last day, April 5th. I decided to go by Mason Temple Church where Dr. King gave his last speech, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop.” This is a sermon I’d given as a young man in MLK contests in high school and college. It was my dream to be in the same space where Rev. King said so many prophetic words.

Side story: I rented a car for the drive but only a white cargo van was available. I must tell you, I felt silly driving around in a van that looked like the UPS. I pulled up in Mason Temple but unfortunately, the building was closed. I decided to ring the bell anyway. As I was about to leave, a young black janitor answered the door. I said, “Hey man, sorry to bother you, I am from Maryland, and would really like to see the space where Dr. King last preached. I know you’re closed but brother, you’d make my life if I could come in and take some pictures. He said, “We have security all around here – I’m not supposed to let anyone in… Wait, is that your white truck?”

I said yes. Sheepishly, he replied, “You look like you’re delivering something, so I think I can let you in without any trouble.”. A MIRACLE!

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking. (Photo by Julian Wasser//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

There I was inside this massive, amazing, black church, which now serves as the headquarters of the Church of God in Christ. I took pictures and marveled at the sacred space, walked up and down the aisles and then up the steps to the pulpit. I stood in that hallowed space, looked out, and saw with my own eyes what King saw. I cried with joy and sadness. Divine intervention came. A miracle in Memphis happened because of that van.

On my last week of sabbatical, my wife and I went to NYC to watch a play. While seated, I noticed something peculiar. A few rows in front of us seemed to be the same family we saw at breakfast at our hotel in Manhattan. We were not yet completely sure because we were looking at their backs. And with a population of over 1.6 million, this seemed like a strange coincidence. After the show and when we arrived back at our hotel, we met this family again on the elevator.

To be sure, I asked them if they were at the show and with shock in their eyes, said they were! The wife in the family was astonished as we were. Norman Cousins said, “You are a single cell in the body of over 7 billion cells. The body is humankind. You are a single cell. Your needs are individual, but they are not unique. You are interlocked with other human beings in the consequences of your actions, thoughts, and feelings. You will work for human unity and human peace; for a moral order in harmony with the order of the universe. Together you share the quest for a society of the whole equal to your needs, a society in which you need not live beneath your moral capacity, and in which justice has a life of its own. You are single cells in a body of over 7-billion cells. The body is humankind.”

When life gets hard and I don’t feel I can move forward, something always happens that brings me back to my best self. These, as Carl Jung called them, synchronicities, are not mere chance. They come as heavenly reminders that we are not alone nor forgotten. There is something in us and in the cosmos—an energy—a spirit that is still alive and active in this world. And when we remember this, it comes alive again and again to restore and nourish us in ways seen and unseen.

Your DRUUMM Chaplains are here for you in this strange and challenging world. Reach out to us if you need a reminder that you are remembered, loved, and interconnected to greatness. May it be so.

-Rev. John Crestwell