Tuesday, January 20, 2009

widening pool of light

I know it has been several weeks since my last post. Change has been in the air. I'm finishing my work at Project Transformation, beginning new work in a new place. With that comes all kinds of hopes and anxieties. On all of this, I will write more this week.

But for today, I set aside my own thoughts and struggles. My own little path of change. A bigger change is happening today. Today, President Obama began his term.

Like others, I am feeling celebratory and hopeful; thankful that we've come far enough as a nation to elect this great leader to the white house, knowing also how very far we still need to go on the journey towards equality, peace and hope for all people.

But there is a sense of a new beginning. One we are all hungry for, one which we've been craving for many months, years, decades. Who knows what may happen. Obama is a great man, undoubtedly, but still only a man. A person with only a limited sphere of capability and influence and a thousand obstacles which could scatter that influence to the wind. Yet, still a person, who like each of us has real power. Real influence. Real life that can impact everyone and everything.

Dr. Elizabeth Alexander read this poem today. Beautiful, powerful and eloquent, I think it expresses so much of what this particular day holds:

"Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus; A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”
We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light."



So, here we stand, all of us together, whatever our politics, whatever our economic status, whatever our religion, whatever our race: on the brink, the brim, the cusp. About to walk into something new. I can only hope with Alexander that the mightiest word will be love.

Praise song for walking forward into that widening pool of light.

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