I voted yesterday. At about 10:15p.m. I stood in line for 4-1/2 hours with about 700 of my fellow countrymen in the rotunda of the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock, passing the time watching them and reading.
There were lots of people: black people, white people, old people, young people — even several incredibly well-behaved toddlers. There was a poll worker wearing fuzzy pink house slippers. A Navy vet with a brand-new cell phone, one of only a few that could punch through the stone and marble. (He scanned CNN headlines most of the time.) There was a big lady who jumped up a foot and issued a blood-curdling scream when she mistook one toddler’s little grey Matchbox car (scooting across the floor in front of her) for a mouse. There were some old UofA school chums, seeing each other for the first time in years, who had to call the Hogs while the rest of us laughed and shook our heads. There were three people in line from the Singles class I co-teach on Sunday mornings. Many folks had books.
Until the battery in my old PDA gave out, I read the gospel of John — made it all the way to the 17th chapter.
Reading continuously like that gives you interesting insights. Have you ever noticed how much of Jesus’ teaching and ministry in John has to do with food and eating? The “hard saying” about eating his flesh and drinking his blood actually lost Him many followers.
Last night in line, people who had never met before held places for each other for a trip to the vending machines and coffee shop in the basement of the courthouse, and brought food back to share. They held each others’ babies. They chatted. They joked. If they’d been in a church, you’d call it communing.
I listened to life stories of folks I didn’t know. I talked to folks I didn’t know about how my day had begun with a migraine at 3:30 a.m.; that I’d had to stay home from work; that my wife called from her job and said a gas main had exploded across the street from my kids’ school and she was bringing them home; that I spent a good part of the day with them, helping them play on the computer. I told them how glad I was to see them when they came home with Mom; how much it reminded me of how I felt when I saw them come home on 9/11/01.
I have to tell you that I was worried about how divided our nation has become in this pre-election free-for-all. Until last night.
Osama is wrong. Our security isn’t in the hands of President Bush, or Senator Kerry, or even in our own hands. It’s in the hands of God. But our choice for our nation’s leaders is in our own hands.
After last night, I’m convinced that both are in good hands.