[Ed. Note: Guest-authored by Katie Haskins. We had a busy weekend. Also, meet the new logo, which still needs to be rolled out, but seemed apt for this post in particular.]
The smell of cinnamon baking with butter and sugar wafted through the air. Our traditional cinnamon rolls were eagerly anticipated, since I hadn’t started them as early as I usually do. (I call them holy rolls because Gram C’s recipe says to beat the hell out of the dough.) It was a typical slow morning of General Conference, but seeing a Lauren 🌹👽 missed call 15 minutes notification snapped me to attention. Hearing her voice on the phone I could tell she was upset. Words like guy, AK-47, police, and sewing machine, came flooding out. With my daughter 736.2 miles away, there is nothing I can do but listen. She recounts the story more coherently here:
With morning session ended, and the hobbits fed their second breakfast, I had settled down for a little leisurely calendaring.1Haven’t done that for a few months! But leisure is not the name of my game, and a request quickly came. “Mom, do you want to go to the jeweler, today?” A quick check of the store hours on Google confirmed that yes, indeed, I did.2[ed. note: To get a watch battery. No limousine liberals here.]
On the way home, we drove past a Donald Trump rally in the middle of Claremont. We also saw two young people standing with a Black Lives Matter sign and a Trans Lives Matter sign. They stood straight and tall and alone. I think I’d made it as far as the High School (15 seconds drive?) and I knew that the rest of the day would not be spent sitting on the couch listening to someone tell me about Jesus. In my faith, we call it the Spirit. I always know when it’s the right thing for me to do when it tells me to do something unusual. And then I get this flood of energy that moves me to action. Three minutes later I was home, had gathered up anyone who was feeling brave—yesterday that was James, my Black Lives Matter sign from June, and a water bottle.2For hydration, not throwing. Duh. I use big bags of soup for that.
My brave3He asked me if it was ok to be afraid son and I parked in front of the School of Theology, took our picture in front of the Methodist nativity stable, then took our spots 6 feet away from the other two. They thanked us and we four stood straight and tall and alone. I won’t go into how we were treated by the people on the other side of the street. Let’s just say when I called Steve he made sure to get dressed, just in case. None of it was surprising, but it doesn’t really make it any easier. At some point we were joined by a tall slender young man, who stood six feet away, straight and extra tall. We were mostly silent, only there to stand as an answer.
The one exception was when a man in a truck, waiting at the turn signal, leaned out the window, looked my son in the face, spat and then drew his finger across his throat.4And you wonder why we don’t really care to be around Trump people. I really don’t want to tell that story to some folks, because their mental gyrations to excuse such behavior have already broken my heart enough. The tall young man reminded the man that death threats were possibly criminal behavior. The rest was us were breathing the black exhaust of the truck as they gunned it loud and hard past us.
When the rally packed up, we left. Hot and tired, thanked by a few people,5If you want to know, showing support by honking, waving, thumbs upping, playing certain fun music on your radio, etc. It helps—it really does. threatened by more. In the end, though, I had done for someone else’s daughters what I wish someone had done for mine. I helped them feel, if not exactly safe, then at least not alone.
I have stared into the eyes of evil before, and Saturday I chose to stare it down again. If I don’t learn to stand when my God urges me to my feet, then I will not have anything to stand for. My aim, however imperfectly I execute it, has always been, and always will be to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” May God have mercy on my soul.