Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Truly, today's inauguration was incredibly moving. And between last night's MLK event at church, and the ceremonies this morning, and a surfeit of emotion these days in general, I find myself just exhausted at this moment.

Alone now at work it's tempting to feel a little let-down, though there's no real need to process this further in the company of others. I didn't have to watch Obama's swearing-in alone, the potential prospect of which had me in a funk early this morning. That having been averted, I'm brimful now with my buzz, from the "hope and virtue" of which Obama spoke, the pathos and humor of Joseph Lowry's benediction, the eloquence of Elizabeth (?) the poet's sweeping picture of America moving forward together in love for one another and for country.

And too, yesterday, I heard many speeches - my friend Dean's moving acceptance speech as he received a teaching honor at Augsburg College, wherein he in turn honored the memory of Dr. King in whose spirit the award was given. And excerpts from two of King's speeches and writings; and the voices of other friends as they paid tribute to King. And Obama himself, again, as I watched video footage of his nomination speech in Denver. So many words pouring in (of such quality) makes it difficult to tolerate the clanging weight of one's own thoughts, one's own weak phrasing, even as I feel called to somehow take up the work again towards which we as a country are exhorted.

And yet life does go on -- no sooner was the Inaugural benediction finished than the doorbell rang at church with our next food shelf client. It's not that these things are unrelated -- certainly, they are not, and the opposite in fact. We serve those in need here. We are called to serve.

But in the silence that follows all this, there's love too -- there is, though the poet named it and certainly the word is worn from use and misuse -- there's love, there's something more waiting inside to be said, and it's probably nothing more than the afterglow of a great speech and the desire to share it with someone. So, here I am.

The church is quiet, quiet -- the phone hardly rings, and down the hall a smoke detector with a weakening battery chirps insistantly, but quietly. I find myself returning again to the the question of what the church will become now; what is our future, where will leadership take us (or leave us), and why have I knowingly let these questions become all-consuming. I have lots of weaknesses, and while some of them occasionally look like strengths as well, only God knows what I'm doing here. I have too much love for this place. I'm cared for too well. I haven't given up my greed for it, and so I'm constantly concerned about losing it. And who is this that watches the Inauguration in a youth room with two pastors, staring at the old Tv set and weeping occasionally, to see a black man take the oath of office? Who is this that sits in the half-darkness of the church office and ponders the financial work that awaits her today, blogging instead of working, occasionally receiving phone calls and visitors? Who is this that prays and confesses, and walks around with a tidy sum of guilt to balance out the inspirations of the faith? Who is this person, unequal to her faith?

And where do I belong, in a country that has arguably stepped out of the bonds of the old history and into the uncertain narrative of a genuinely fraught but compelling future?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with you about the poetry. It was boring and awful.

I'm more of a Frost guy...Frost preferred traditional rhyme and meter in poetry; his famous dismissal of free verse was, "I'd just as soon play tennis with the net down."

No rhyme and meter = Lazy