She was a little under eleven years old when Martin shared his dream with her. As with all children, she took it at face value, believing in the possibilities like she believed in pixies in the garden. While she was not the only one he had shared the dream with, somehow, she felt she held a special place in its becoming reality. As a child, she could talk of the dream in realistic terms without the practicality of the adult world raining on her.
Then the unthinkable happened, her innocence was stolen by the crimes of adults who lived on fear. Martin’s dream was shattered by a hate so real she stopped sharing it. The dream became a secret she kept locked in her heart, only to be taken out when she felt safe, or most often, alone.
Others did not understand the need to make the dream real. The few times she felt brave enough to even mention the possibilities of such a dream she met with ridicule. Childish sentiment, utopian imaginings, illusions of grandeur…all terms given for her incessant belief that the dream was real.
So she shut down, moving through time and space as if on auto pilot. The dream burned within her heart, but its light was seen only by those who also held a piece within them.
Attracting others of like mind, she began to build the strength needed to create a reality from Martin’s dream. Affirming each other, she and the others talked about how the dream was becoming real through their belief, through their positive understanding of what it meant. Taking little baby steps, she could see that they had all scaled the mountain of despair and were now ascending the mountain of hope. The summit was in sight.
One night in November, she and all those like her, saw it happen. The dream, rooted in the American Dream, became real. Yes, there were difficulties, but on that night, Martin’s dream of seeing all God’s children working together for brotherhood, equality and freedom, became real. On that night, in front of an entire nation, a black man and woman together with a white man and woman joined hands along with their children, showing that Martin’s dream had not died when his great heart ceased to beat. They showed the nation and the world on that clear November evening that now is the time to sing, now is the time to dance, now is the time to roll up our sleeves, finishing what Martin began.
Now, in the autumn of her life, she stands amidst the falling leaves of this New England autumn, hearing as clearly as the day Martin first shared them, the words “I have a dream,” knowing that it is a dream of many, not a few; knowing that it is possible, not an illusion; knowing deep within her that Martin is smiling on this very moment saying, “Free at last…free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”