Today a community came together, as they have many times before, to celebrate the life of a young man taken too early. This young man, Elijah Galbraith, was loved by many. That was evident today, as the services at Beulah Baptist Church in Watts, left standing room only for folks who came to pay their respects to Elijah and his family.
The power of communal healing, strength, faith in the face of fear… I’d never been a part of this type of space before… An African American church in the midst of crisis (something that seems to be engulfing my professional being as of late… Haven’t written a blog post without that word in it for quite some time) and yet in the middle of what would be chaos… Peace and celebration. The songs, psalms, and scriptures guided the gathering of at least 500 people spanning generations. The services eliciting the full range of human emotions. I was in awe.
And although I have reservations and some out right fear about when this may happen again, I was allowed into a space of faith and encouraged to check my own. I know I have it in some capacity. Waking up every morning and doing what I have loved to do for the last decade isn’t always easy and sometimes it makes you want to give up on the system, on people (mainly adults and to be completely honest… Sometimes kids, but far less frequent than the adults) but there is always something that brings us back.
The last day I spoke to Elijah, I celebrated, however momentarily in those minutes during passing period, his accomplishments. He was improving and moving the needle forward on his academic meter. He was honing in on a focused pursuit of his goals to play football and attend a college. Today when we spoke to Elijah, we celebrated the same thing. We are proud of his life, though so very short and so unnecessarily violent in end. But it is the possibilities in life that keep us coming back.
My students are always teaching me things. Elijah taught me to smile in the face of chaos. Smile for peace. I will try my best to remember this lesson.