Recently in Observations Category
You all know by now that I love October. I really love October. A Lot.
Today St. Thèr&ecute;se, tomorrow Guardian Angels, October 7, Our Lady of the Rosary, and St Teresa of Avila on October 15th. I know, I know, there are others, but this is just a sampling.
In addition, we get peak color in the Northern states, and in my home states, all of those birds that have migrated north, return to roost in the trees so that you see thousands and thousands of egrets, herons, and other birds. The trees look like they're decorated already for Christmas. This month really makes my heart sing.
Last night had an opportunity to speak with someone--my friend of longest acquaintance. We don't speak often, and don't share e-mail nearly often enough. While talking I had a moment--not long, but a few seconds of many years ago when we would talk for incredibly long stretches of time in conversations that would wind round and round and round and come out here. He even took me to task (quite correctly) for an opinion espoused some years ago about Hemingway. (And, it is, indeed, an opinion I hold to this day. Hemingway may or may not have been a genius, but his legion of imitators mostly have not been.) And it was refreshing to have had someone who took seriously enough what you said to be able to remember it after lo, these many years.
And perhaps that is what true friendship is about--someone who takes seriously what you take seriously and understands how very important that can be and someone who holds up a mirror and says, look closely, do you like what you see?
I stopped by the White House site to assure our new President of my continued support in prayer and my continued opposition in matter of policy where I sincerely believe him to be wrong. While there, I found this little statement about gifts sent to the White House and thought it sends exactly the right signal to the whole country:
from the White House Web Site:
While President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Biden appreciate your thoughtfulness, they request that instead you look to your local community for opportunities to assist your neighbors in need.
In all probability, other presidents have probably done the same, but I have never felt quite so moved to visit. Obama's thoughts on the most vulnerable among us fill me more with fear than with hope; however, if the world is to be changed, I have to start helping sometime, and this seemed as good a time as any.
As I reflect on this day I am thankful, profoundly thankful.
I am personally thankful that despite all of my predictions about those small-minded enough to keep him out of office on the basis of skin color alone, we as a nation showed ourselves to be on the way to overcoming judgment on the basis of unavoidable personal characteristics. I'm not happy about the election overall, but I must admit that a small candle of hope and joy was kindled by the fact that a person of color could be elected to the highest office in the land.
And more importantly, when driving to the Magic Kingdom this morning with Sam and quizzing him on why I was home to do this the following occurred:
"Do you know why I'm home today to take you to the Magic Kingdom."
"Because it's Martin Luther King day."
"And why is Martin Luther King important?"
"Because he made it possible for brown people to live with white people and so we could become a family."
That really touched my heart. I explained that courageous people could do this before MLK and the like, but that it took a great deal of courage to defy social convention that way--courage I'm not certain that I have. However, in most places today, this is a relatively easy commitment to make.
But there's nothing to bring home a celebration like making it personal. And so, my thanks for the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, a flawed visionary and a man of peace, encouraging all to look past the surface and to see the shining dignity of each human being whether black, white, yellow, red, Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight--all human, all worthy of love and made worthy of love by the love invested and lavished by our Creator and Father.
Thank goodness someone had the courage to stand up for what is right and is only now beginning to be accepted as normal. His lessons should be the lessons we internalize and examine as we look to other groups who are fighting injustices and difficulties. We can't paint all with the same brush, but we do well to look beyond the individual configuration and to determine what is just and what is right.
And perhaps, for those who read Ms. Vowell's book, reviewed below, we might do well to internalize a little of Roger Williams's teaching regarding laws about the first table or any table.
May God continue to raise up courageous leaders who will fight the good fight for the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, for those who have no voice of their own. It is far too easy to dismiss and forget that we are visited by Grace in the persons of those who surround us every day. We need to begin to see the grace and act on it.
The other day while riding home from dance class, the subject of Obama came up and Samuel shared some desultory comment along with a long sigh and the name said almost as an imprecation.
"What wrong with Obama?" I asked him.
"Well, you know," he answered rather defensively.
"No, I don't. Why don't you tell me."
"Obama wants to kill babies." Ah, at last, the problem. In this I could see his staunchly republican mother's hand at work.
I said, "Sometime people are very misled. They think that what they are doing is a good thing for everyone. But they have been deceived by Satan and see and think things that are not real."
"Like mirages. I know."
I continue, "Obama has not yet taken office. We may not judge him in these ways. Additionally, the office of the President (if not the man--although I didn't say this to Samuel) is worthy of respect. We must give him a chance."
"But he wants to kill babies." You can't deny the simple logic of that.
"Is that a reason to dislike him and say bad things about him? Isn't a more appropriate response to pray for him so that God might guide him and prevent some of the things he says he'll do?"
"So rather than saying bad things about him, what must we do with respect to the man who will become President Obama."
"We must pray for him."
"And what must we pray for in particular?"
"That he not be allowed to kill babies."
Isn't it amazing the way children catch on so quickly? I certainly have no great fondness for Obama, but then, neither had I for the other candidate, and I can't say that I'll be sorry to see the present President leave office. Nevertheless, the office of leadership deserves my respect, my loyalty, and above all my prayers for guidance, strength, and a willingness to speak out in truth at all costs. This last is not a commodity in abundance within the world of politics. I dread what Obama may do upon assuming office, but the truth of the matter is neither I nor anyone else knows for certain what this might be, and now is the time for prayer--to earnestly implore God to change the mind and heart of the man who will be the next leader of the United States. Given that his whims will be essentially unopposed, let us pray that they are more often breezes from Heaven rather than draughts from Hell.
I can't tell you how liberating it is to be able to say that you have been wrong.
I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again, and it's wonderful to be shown how wrong I am because I have the new delight of finding what I have so long been missing. I wish more people relished the experience of being wrong and the liberating joy of seeing the light. Of course, it can be a bit like opening your eyes first thing in the morning to the shock of the overhead lights being turned on. But after that initial shock and pain has faded, how delightful to be able to see.
One last note about my recent trip to NYC.
While there, I fell in love with lower Manhattan--the west side. What's not to love? Everything extraordinary money can buy and more all concentrated in one small area--gorgeous riverside parks with an expansive view of Jersey City (believe it or not, quite lovely in its own way), sailboats, barges, tour boats, water-taxis, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the "Russian" Train station from which many of the people who passed through Ellis Island set out for parts west. Continue down and around to Battery Park and eventually up to Fulton Street shops, markets, restaurants, etc.
What I observed in all of this was a corner of New York in which the pace was not quite so frenetic, and the speed a touch slower than other places--for example Lexington and 48th, where one night I had dinner. We arrived a little early for the dinner appointment and walked up Lexington to the Waldorf Astoria and back. The whole time I seemed to be trapped in a seething, chaotic, roiling, mass of people, traffic, and solid, unbreathable air. The buildings and shops along the way provided momentary respite from the surge, but the overall experience, were it sustained for any greater length of time, would have been insupportable.
Now, it is this latter, electric, kinetic New York City that provides the chief draw for a great many, I'm sure. It is what I think of when I think of New York City. Yet, as with most cities, there are many faces--and the face of the Battery and parts of Tribeca, was that of a smaller, more intimate, somewhat slower, more comfortable community. I had decided that I could easily live in these areas--which just goes to show you what champagne tastes on a beer budget can do.