Thinking on Dr. King this MLK day – on his legacy of love and action towards justice – it put in mind the giant logs that litter the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Stable seeming logs, immobile looking, delivered to the shore by powerful waves.
The beginning of 2019 found us on the Olympic Peninsula in a cabin by the sea. The stretch of Pacific Ocean along the western coast of Washington is stunning, strewn with rocky cliffs, dense evergreens, marsh land and rainforests rich with mossy trees. The ocean litters these beaches with logs – felled by storms, erosion, critters and perhaps logging, then dragged across the water to the shore.
Some of these logs are giants. Sitting on a rocky beach, they seem at home, like they’ve been there forever. We want to stand on them and see further down the coast. But even those behemoths are no match for the powerful sea. Every day the tide comes in to deliver the day’s catch of wood and stone. And every day the tide goes out, taking even the sturdiest with it.
In this way, the water arranges and rearranges the beach daily. And in this way even the giant logs are vulnerable, impermanent. They move at the ocean’s bidding, unless something else anchors them down.
“Killer logs” the signs read – a warning not to trust those things that seem so permanent and unmoving.
These logs whisper to us about our most stable plans, our most sure-footed ideas, and our most long-standing institutions. Those things in this life that we value, they require that we do more than stand on them to better ourselves. We have to add more than just our weight.
Dr. King asked that we all actively aspire to bring about the beloved community. That we act as accomplices to the work of justice. The wave he pushed and the institutions it ushered in - they are only so permanent as we make them. We must continue to anchor them today, lest the tide roll all his sturdy progress back out to sea.