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  • Writer's pictureLinda Beatrice Brown

Can I Get A Witness?

Can I Get A Witness? A Parable for Our Time

In Honor of John Lewis

Once there was a man who owned a lantern. For a while it sat on his table unused.

and then one day the man heard God say,

“Can I get a witness?”

And the man said, “I can witness for justice and peace.” And the man sat down and waited for directions.

And God said, again, “Can I get a witness?”

And then the man picked up his lantern and lit it. And he left his house and started down the road. He stood on a hill and looked around, and he saw cruelty and greed and injustice.

And God said again, “Can I get a witness?”

And the man with the lantern said, “Yes I will witness,” because he knew about justice, peace, love and truth. And he said, “I can testify to that.” And then he saw that there were many others with him, women, men, and children.

And he heard God say, again, “Can I Get A Witness?”

And the man with the lantern said, “I will go to the bridge and cross over into the maelstrom of hatred and fear, and walk toward understanding and goodness, because I know what is on the other side. And on the bridge he was sorely tried, but he held his lantern high because his soul was anchored in truth and Love.

And he heard God’s voice again, saying, “Can I get a witness?”

And on the other side of the bridge he walked and walked and walked, working to rebuild the birthright of all.

And finally, like all of us, he grew weary, and God called to him one last time. And he handed his lantern to one of the many children who stood by his bed,

and he said, “It’s your turn. Go. Be a witness. Cross some bridges. Hold it high, and keep it burning. And he closed his eyes and he rested at last. Amen, amen.

Linda Beatrice Brown

© Linda Beatrice Brown

Author's note: “Can I Get A Witness” is a reference to an African American Spiritual. For deeper inquiry and to read the full lyrics, click here.

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