The Time Two People Shared a Wading Pool

Gratitude Day 468

Wed., June 3, 2020

Psalm 139:23-24 – Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

“I know how you feel.”

Too many times, I said these words. Then, a situation happened when suddenly, I realized that saying these words was simply wrong. As much as I would like to think I know how someone feels, the only person whose feelings I can ever really know are my own.

No one else.

And so, I tried to banish this sentence from my vocabulary.

Too often, I have heard people who look like me say these words to people who look vastly different from me. Honestly, I cringe every time I hear this because, seriously, there is NO. WAY. POSSIBLE. I cannot ever know how people who are hugely different from me feel.

There is no way I can know how a black person feels.

I cannot know what a person who has lived in multiple generations of poverty has experienced.  

It would be impossible for me to understand what it feels like to be judged day after day based on an ethic heritage in which your skin is brown, black or something other than European white.

It is unfathomable for me to anticipate why others would respond or question me differently than what currently happens because they think they might not be safe in my presence.

I do not know how these people feel.

I do not know the struggles they have lived.

I do not know the lens through which every potential interaction of their lives must be viewed.

I simply do not know.

So, what do I know?

EVERY. SINGLE. HUMAN. BEING. HAS. WORTH. Period.

God created all of us differently on purpose. And because God created us all, God loves us all. Period.

No one, I repeat, no one, should be valued any less than how I value myself. Period.

When any of this happens, we have a problem.

When I do this, I have a problem. And it is so very necessary for my attitude be adjusted.

I can point fingers at all the things that have happened in the last number of days and make a long laundry list of wrongs. I might even get someone to agree with me on one or two of those points.

But until I take a long, hard look at my heart and soul, well, it’s pretty useless for me to focus on what everyone else is doing wrong.

When my heart needs fixing.

When my soul is too judgmental.

When my life is far from perfect.

Every once in a while, there is someone who embodies the ability to speak loudly while using very few words.

Mr. Rodgers was one of those people.

On May 9, 1969, Mr. Rodgers invited a black police officer, Office Clemmons, to join him. Together, they rolled up their pants and dipped their feet into a small plastic wading pool filled with water.

In doing so, Rodgers broke through a well-known color barrier. Even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended sanctioned separation of races in public places, many white people were opposed to desegregation. For the next five years, public pools remained a place where blacks were often not allowed to integrate with white people.

Then, there was the time Mr. Rogers invited Officer Clemmons to his pool. The Officer said that he didn’t have a towel to wipe off his feet with. Rodgers shared his towel with his friend and wiped his feet with the same towel after Office Clemmons. No words spoke of why some might have a problem with this. They just both used the towel.  

This was such an important event that Mr. Rodgers and Officer Clemmons recreated the scene in 1993 before Mr. Rodgers retired. While Rodgers could not know how Officer Clemmons felt in all of his life, he could soak his feet with him in the same pool.

And he did.

Here’s one man who examined his heart and changed his ways so that he might allow himself an opportunity to learn from someone else.

In a wading pool.

Maybe it’s time that we invited someone who looks quite different from ourselves to soak their feet with us in a wading pool. We cannot know how the other person feels. But we can listen. Share. Observe.

And then, we can share the towel.

For God’s grace in my life to see where I have opportunities to change my heart, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.  Amen.

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