“But I just couldn’t go, I couldn’t even pray,” said Biden. “I wondered if I would ever feel joy again.”
Biden stayed away from regular church attendance for the next four years.
Until she made her first visit to Brookland Baptist.
In May of 2019, during a campaign swing through the Palmetto State, then-candidate Joe Biden and Jill Biden stopped to worship at a service led by Jackson.
那天, it wasn’t necessarily the reverend who moved her to action, but rather his wife, Robin Jackson. “Robin came up to me, and she sat beside me and she said, ‘Doctor Biden, I would like to be your prayer partner,'” 拜登说, recounting the day for Sunday’s assembled congregation of about 100 人, which included the Jacksons.
Biden would later say she wasn’t sure at the time what exactly a prayer partner was, or what being one entailed — whether it was some sort of pen pal or church buddy program — but something about Jackson’s kindness struck her. “I don’t know if she sensed how moved I had been by the service. I don’t know if she could see the grief that I feel still hides behind my smile,” 她说. But in that moment, for the first time since her son took his last breath, Biden said she saw a path to recovering her faith. 往后看, Biden said it was through Robin Jackson that she heard God telling her, “好的, kiddo, you’ve had enough time. It’s time to come home.”
Two strangers, connected by faith and text messages
星期日, Biden and Robin Jackson sat next to each other on the same pew, masks on, reunited as prayer partners in person. Jackson wore a fuchsia suit, Biden a light blue one, and both had matching corsages of big, red flowers on their wrists. It was a homecoming of sorts, since Biden’s chief communication with Jackson has been via text message. The two women exchanged words of support every Wednesday in the beginning of their relationship, according to Jackson’s son, 牧师. Charles Jackson, 小, who introduced the first lady at the service.
“Following that Sunday, my mother would text a prayerful reminder of God’s favor upon them,” 他解释. “My mother would text, she would return the text; my mother would text, this text would get a return text. And this would continue on until today.”
In an interview with the PBS NewsHour
在八月 2020, Biden was asked what she and her prayer partner actually do
. “We got in touch
. We pray together
,” was the simple answer
. “We text one another a couple of times a week
. She gave me back my faith
,” 拜登说. Delving deeper on Sunday
, Biden quoted scripture saying her renewed belief was possible only because Jackson decided it was time she no longer walked in sadness alone
. “We can’t heal ourselves alone
,” 拜登说. “Robin’s kindness
, her mercy and grace
, pushed past the callouses on my heart
. Like a mustard seed
, my faith was able to grow once again.
在一月 2020, prior to Jackson’s participation as one of
32 speakers from around the country to speak at Joe Biden’s Inaugural Prayer Service
, she said in an interview that her own faith was bolstered by her experience with Jill Biden and their weekly texts
. “Jill would text me back
, and I know she was too busy to text me back
,” 杰克逊说. “But she would always text me back
, and say
, ‘Thank you
, 我的朋友. I needed that.'
Biden’s visit Sunday was kept a surprise for Robin Jackson. (她的丈夫, the reverend, was told — but only because it is well known, say his friends, he does not like surprises, especially during his church services.) When Secret Service started to show up earlier in the day on Sunday, and police presence around the church increased ahead of Biden’s arrival, Robin Jackson got suspicious. “She was told it was because Whip (吉姆) Clyburn was coming,” 迈克尔·拉罗萨, Biden’s press secretary, told CNN about how the rouse sustained itself. The South Carolina congressman and third-ranking Democrat in the House has a security detail and has been to the church before. The lie, though told in a house of worship, was a small one and made in good faith, La Rosa said.
When Biden arrived, she slipped into a private room, carrying a large bouquet of flowers made by florists in the White House florist shop, and surprised Robin Jackson.
After Biden spoke to the congregation, Jackson’s son took the microphone and shared with a laugh how difficult it was not to tell his mother that Biden was coming to see her. “It took everything in us to keep it from her,” 他说, saying the visit was “no political ploy,” but an “expression of love and friendship.”
La Rosa says the first lady and Jackson still “keep in frequent touch,” and most of the time it is still via text.
对于拜登, the encounter with Jackson was much more than a chance to text a stranger and now newfound friend. The spark that restored her faith, 她说, restored something larger, 太. “It reminded me of what was at stake,” Biden said Sunday. “Not an election, not a partisan battle, but a country in need of healing.”
Biden once again attends church regularly. 周六, prior to her surprise trip to see her prayer partner, she and the President, who is Catholic, attended Mass at a church in Georgetown, something the couple does nearly every weekend whether in Washington, 直流电, or back home in Delaware. Closing her remarks the following day, Biden said that when she came back to her faith, and decided to believe in God again, she learned, “We not only find mercy, we find each other.”