Walk of Hope

Posted: April 12, 2008 in Justice

Hurricane Katrina toppled the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge like dominoes. Many of my church family were hanging out at our church building a half mile away, but we had no idea. The bridge destruction turned out to be one of the most dramatic scenes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The rebuilding of the bridge became quite the controversy. How tall, how wide, and how it would look kept all sorts of people up in arms, but eventually the final decisions were made and work commenced. Several months ago now, the bridge opened with one lane going each direction amid much fanfare. With MUCH less fanfare this past week, all six lanes are now open.

One of the neat aspects of the bridge is the walking/jogging/bicycling path. It is a couple of miles across the bridge, and this is a super-humongous bridge for us here in South Mississippi, so fitness enthusiasts have come out en force. In addition, there are three little insets in the path with benches facing the water for people to sit and drink in the beauty of nature – if you’re willing to hike to them that is.

Our CASA group decided to do a Walk of Hope today to bring awareness to our cause – speaking up for children of abuse and neglect. When Jody and I woke up at 5:30am, some of our group had already been working in the rain and darkness for an hour setting up for the event. When we arrived on the Biloxi side of the bridge at 7am, it was cold, rainy, and well, just not a pretty day to be planning a walk.

But we kept setting up anyway. This was, after all, a Walk of HOPE. We kept hoping it would work out.

Ricky the Magician showed up to entertain the crowd. Stella the Singer arrived to serenade us with music. And while we were huddling under the tent (dummy me wore shorts and a t-shirt on this cold, windy morning), the sky began to clear, and the rain stopped. And people arrived in spite of the weather.

The Army Color Guard came to present the colors. The boys group from Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church arrived in full force. Parents pushing kids in strollers came to walk alongside grandmothers (who walked faster than anyone – don’t ever get in a walking race with a grandmother).

We didn’t have the four or five hundred we expected, but we probably had close to two-hundred people overall. And we walked. For hope.

We walked the two mile span and descended on the Ocean Springs side where snacks and drinks and a rally awaited us. A children’s choir sang, our state CASA director spoke, and our youth court judge shared her thoughts with us.

It was a very good morning after all.

So the next time you wake up in the middle of a storm when you were supposed to be walking for hope, get your lazy butt out of bed anyway. You can’t rain out a hope parade.

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