Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Eleventh hour

As I write this from my outpost on the Left Coast, less than one hour remains in the final full day of the Bush administration. I am excited about tomorrow's inauguration but also melancholy that while collectively we as Americans started a movement to elect a progressive new President, we also let the past eight years happen--with protest, yes, but what an ugly eight years.

During those eight years Mr. Trillwing and I married. Lucas was born. I finished my Ph.D.

They've been good years for us as a family. But I can't help but think Lucas has been born under a bad star, some ill alignment of the planets, that will inflect the rest of his life.

And so, to borrow a phrase from the Friends, tonight I am holding President-Elect Obama in the light. Those of you who know me well know that I am not a believer in any traditional conception of god, but that there's something about the silent meetings and reflective practice of Quakers that I find very attractive. But I know that President Obama is a believer, so I want to hold him in the light in the hopes that he retains the strength to restore justice, peace, and prosperity to all the American people.

Accordingly, I offer to the President-Elect and to the country, these tidbits of testimony and wisdom from Friends and others.

On patience with the new President:

"We need to be willing to be led into the dark as well as through green pastures and by still waters." (Gordon Matthews, 1987, cited in Plain Living by Catherine Whitmire)
On community as Americans, and on the power of the individual:
"A culture of isolated individualism produces mass conformity because people who think they must bear life all alone are too fearful to take the risks of self-hood. But people who know that they are embedded in an eternal community are both freed and empowered to become who they were born to be." (Parker Palmer, 2000, cited in Whitmire)
On international conflict (and partisan politics):
"The best definition I've ever heard for forgiveness is giving up the right to hurt someone for the hurt they've done to you." (Joyce Sams, 1994, cited in Whitmire)
On work as spiritual calling:

"When [Susan B.] Anthony was once asked, "Do you pray?" she responded, "I pray every second of my life; not on my knees, but with my work. My prayer is to lift women to equality with men. Work and worship are one with me." (Hugh Barbour et. al, 1995, cited in Whitmire)

On taking action:

You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous.
Take off from here. And don't be so earnest,

so ready for the sackcloth and the ashes.
Let go, let fly, forget.
You've listened long enough. Now strike your note.

(from section XII of Seamus Heaney's Station Island)
Let us all take off from here.


RageyOne said...

well said.

susan said...

That is just beautiful. Words well worth re-reading, too.