By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Monday morning was different this time. Mayor Ronnie and I were trying to get our heads around the awfulness of what had happened in Minneapolis. We talked about demonstrations gone wrong in Nashville as well as Birmingham. We commented onhow weird it was to have COVID seemingly and temporarily vanish as quickly as it had arrived.
There had been a demonstration on Sunday at the Courthouse Square in Athens that, as the mayor explained, no one would have known about if there had not been some pretty vile communication via social media just prior to the event. Thankfully, the
protest was peaceful, at least physically.
“We have got to be the voice of reason,” said the mayor. It was clear to both of us that people had legitimate reasons to be upset, “But how do we come together?” was the deep question on both of our hearts. We talked about the need for prayer, and not just casually, but people of all colors in Athens coming together for serious, reconciliation prayer.
We moved on to other topics and even a bit of humor. In response to some of the re-opening of Athens, there was a line of cars on Sunday that went down the street as people waited to get something tasty at Kreme Delite. The mayor jokingly asked someone if there was any chance that he could cut in line, and she shot back, “Oh, that could get you hurt!”
Not knowing how COVID is going to continue to affect us and how we gather together, the mayor told people on Facebook that one way or another there will be a Heroes’ Day for kids, even if it has to be in parade form. And, in spite of COVID changing the format of Relay for Life this year, over $12,000 was raised to help fight cancer. As we continue to adjust the way we celebrate, it was noteworthy that there was a social-distancing retirement party for Athens Fire Department Chief Brian Thornton, who served our city for nearly a quarter of a century. The mayor wished him well.
Before we set to prayer, the mayor asked me to include something he had posted on Facebook which summed up all of our grief and desires for our nation to get through this time. It is as follows: Like many of you, I have lived through, and seen, this country. From the horrible race riots in 1960-’70, and specifically 1967-1968 and serving in Vietnam, but honestly these current days trouble me to the point of tears.
While having coffee on the patio, I listened to the Gaithers, James Cleveland (Standing in the Need of Prayer), and the Blind Boys of Alabama. If we expect to get better, we have to do better. Thank God for Athens and Limestone County and all of us working together to “be better.” I ask all to “Stand in the Need of Prayer”…please stay safe! mThen it was time to pray, so we did, coming away from our time together with a deeper desire to “be the voice of reason.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner