Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And Oh, Wasn't it Wonderful?

OK, I cried from 10:30 a.m. on.

I never, ever, even in my wildest hopes and dreams in the late 1960s, imagined this day. My soul is stirred in greater hope and faith in my country than at any time since Lyndon B. Johnson sadly assumed the responsibilities of his fallen President, John F. Kennedy. I've never been prouder of the United States of America than I am at this moment. I'm even thinking of hanging the flag from my own home, secure now that at last it represents the Bill of Rights the Constitution and the great, great values of liberty and justice for all.

Snapshots from my memory: The inimitable, the unique, the unforgettable Aretha Franklin and the intimation all people of good will must have had of the meaning of this moment to the First Lady of Soul. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts' sorry muffing of the oath of office, unique (at least in my memory of presidential inagurations dating back to Ike), and Obama's gracious effort to give the lad a do-over. My first glimpse of our new First Lady in a fabulous muted chartreuse suit. The pleasure of seeing the First Kids and the First Grandma made a natural part of the day's great events, naturally. My President's powerful speech, the heavy repudiation of the policies and values of the previous administration so richly deserved. My own response to the call to meet the challenges ahead, my own small "Yes I can." The joy when I heard the stirringly beautiful instrumental motif from Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett's "Simple Gifts" (1848) the lyrics of which are so appropriate for this new President and this new moment in a new America:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

The beloved Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery's wonderful benediction and how perfect it was for him to have delivered it. Now that's a Christian minister, my friends a man with his eyes on God. He made me remember, at last what I love about Christianity.

The mass of people, there in joy and hope and not in protest. The little children seeing a Black man take the presidential oath. The grown men weeping.

And by contrast, the huge crowd's very, very funny impromptu send-off to W and Mrs. Bush: "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, Good Bye!"

More later. Hallelujah, Praise God. America's come home.

1 comments:

Dorothy said...

May we ALL be one again...I watched the crowds of people from all walks of life standing side by side, looking to our new President with hope in their eyes, hope that they saw extinguished by the last administration. May we all be blessed as we look to our new future, the world's new future.
I, too, say hallelujah.