Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
For well over two centuries, the United States has been vastly more diverse than its ruling families. Now the Obama family has flipped that around, with a Technicolor cast that looks almost nothing like their overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Protestant predecessors in the role. The family that produced Barack and Michelle Obama is black and white and Asian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They speak English; Indonesian; French; Cantonese; German; Hebrew; African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo; and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Very few are wealthy, and some — like Sarah Obama, the stepgrandmother who only recently got electricity and running water in her metal-roofed shack — are quite poor.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I also had words running through my ears, other words than those being spoken on the dias. With apologies (if necessary) to my colleague the Rev. Kathleen McTigue (who wrote the original), I offer these words:
The inauguration of President Barack Obama is another day dawning, the sun rising as the sun always rises, the earth moving in its rhythms, with or without our calendars to name a certain day as the day of new beginning, separating the old from the new. So it is: everything is the same, bound into its history as we ourselves are bound.
Yet also we stand at a threshold, the new Administration something truly new, still unformed, leaving a stunning power in our hands: what shall we do with this great gift of a new era?
Let us begin by remembering that whatever justice, whatever peace and wholeness might bloom in our world this year, we are the hearts and minds, the hands and feet, the embodiment of all the best visions of our people. This new Presidency can be new ground for the seeds of our dreams.
Let us take the step forward together, onto new ground, planting our dreams well, faithfully, and in joy.
May it be so.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
At night, the great shrine is lit but often empty. Standing between marble columns, I read the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. I look out over the Reflecting Pool, imagining the crowd stilled by Dr. King's mighty cadence, and then beyond that, to the floodlit obelisk and shining Capitol dome.
And in that place, I think about America and those who built it. This nation's founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams.
It is that process I wish to be a part of.
My heart is filled with love for this country.