Monday, January 26, 2009

'Praise Song For Walking Forward In That Light'

Oh, what a week this has been! An African-American man has become the 44th President of our country.

While much has rightly been made of this historic event, I continue to be drawn to the story behind the story. How did this happen? What changes came to our national consciousness that allowed this feat to occur and with such relative ease?

Obviously, Obama himself is a man unique. He possesses the intellectual vigor to properly perceive our challenges, and the verbal acuity to convey them in terms that inspire. And in his method of doing so, he demonstrates as well an extraordinary steadiness and a remarkable depth of character.

It has been a very long time since we have been offered a leader with such a rare combination of qualities. This is fact.

But it was we who listened, and we who are listening still.

In his Inaugural Address, Obama told us that, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them~~that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

I know that Obama was not speaking to those cynics who reside somewhere out there. He was speaking to the cynic who lives still within my heart and yours. 

We all have them. These internal pessimists believe in scarcity, assume strife, cling to the idea that we stand apart and alone.

However, I disagree with my president on one point. These cynics of ours have felt the earth shift.

They have seen it in the eyes of folks gathered in D.C to make history, 1.9 million huddled peacefully together against the frigid January temperatures.

They gather it from news polls showing that, in the midst of such difficult times and even among those who did not vote for Obama, Americans are hopeful about his presidency and our future.

They feel it in the softening of divisions among us and in our response to Obama's call that we “embody a spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater” than ourselves.

This is the story behind the story: this man of unique talents has inspired us to listen to our higher selves, despite the rumblings of fear.

We believe his words that, “The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea…that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

Certainly our cynics have felt this shift in consciousness. I don't, though, believe that they will abandon mistrust so easily. We will hear their clamor in our response to news stories in the weeks to come. We will sense them, too, amid our personal challenges during these difficult times.

How shall we respond?

In her Inaugural poem, Praise Song For the Day, whose closing line is the title for this column, Elizabeth Alexander suggests that, “the mightiest word is love…love that casts a widening pool of light.”

Let us walk forward into that shimmering pool, and bring our fearful critics with us. Perhaps then they will feel free to shrink a bit. At the very least, we can vow to no longer let them run the show.

And to echo the words of civil rights leader, Reverend Joseph Lowery, in his Inaugural benediction, perhaps to that we can all, “say amen…say amen…and amen!”

Namaste!

Loanne Marie

For other essays regarding this election year, see Praying With My Feet, Be The Change, A Shift In Consciousness, and An Open Letter To McCain Supporters.

3 comments:

Jay said...

awesome post Loanne! You captured the moment and the opportunity before us beautifully.

Colleen Travers said...

Thank you so much for this essay. I had been asking everyone if they had felt what I felt that inaugural day. You said it so well.

Loanne Marie said...

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to write. It was quite a day, wasn't it?!!

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Leia Marie