Less than a hundred feet from residences, local authorities discovered the badly decomposed body of a transgender woman of color. The Dallas Police Department put out a detailed description of the body and asked for help. For two weeks, no one seemed to know who this woman was. When the woman was finally identified as 22-year-old Shade Schuler, I realized that she belonged to no one…she was amongst the forgotten.
In the twilight, the heat was excruciating. With every breath, I sweated through my shirt. The jokes of children filled the air. I laughed too. When we stepped onto the hidden gravel road, things got real. I knew we were on holy ground. No one spoke much. Everyone just seemed to be concentrating on the next step. The smell lingered. The heat didn’t stop. I worried that the bread and chalice would slip out of my hands. The screech startled me. Perhaps, the bird was warning us that we were nearing the point of no return. I assumed it was an old fire pit. When I saw the black spot was in the shape of a body, I knew better.
The presence of God was unmistakable. When Carmarion Anderson and I lifted up the elements to the heavens, there was electricity flowing in the air. We remembered the oppression she faced in life. We remembered her murder. In the transcendence of the moment, we knew that she never died. “This is the body and blood of Ms. Shade.” Bending down to touch the spot, everything stopped and Jesus whispered softly in my ear, “What you have done to the least of these you have done to me…” I believed the words as much as I ever had.
The forgotten are not forgotten. They are simply forgotten by us. Our job is not to remember them. Our job is to stand with them. God will do the rest.
Who stood with Ms. Shade when she was alive?
Who stands with her now?