Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Liberation Narratives

I have often said that one of the advantages to going to church on a weekly basis is to be reminded of liberation narratives that we wouldn't hear in the larger culture.  Yesterday's Inaugural celebrations operated on a similar level for me.

I hadn't planned to watch the Inaugural events yesterday. I wasn't even sure I'd listen. I'm tired. I'm not as interested in politics as I was. But the truth is closer to this statement: I'm afraid to let myself hope anymore.

So, I was rearranging stuff in a closet, the closet that holds old backpacks that will likely never be used to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, but getting rid of them means finally admitting that I'm not that backpacker I once was. The closet holds all sorts of exercise equipment and old games and cleaning stuff and fishing gear that's been used once.  It's the closet of abandoned dreams. I was trying to make room for an inversion rack that's clearly going to just be in the way no matter where it is.

Then it was on to the cooking tasks.  As I cut a roasted chicken, I listened to President Obama's speech. What a masterful piece of rhetoric. Here's my favorite part:

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."

I love the vision of a star guiding us. I love the alliteration of Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall. I found myself feeling inspired. And I let myself feel inspired. So few politicians aspire to inspire these days.

I'm ready to feel optimistic again. Last year sorely tried my sunny temperament, between work lay-offs and my spouse's pain. But I'm ready to hope audaciously again. I'm ready to dream bigger dreams. I'm ready to emerge from my closet of broken, discarded plans.

I'm grateful to yesterday's events for reminding me of how far we've come, and in a very short time, when we look at the narrative arc of history. We think that things will never change, and then, they do. May they continue to change for the better!

And the subtle undertone yesterday reminded us that the social justice trail blazed by people like Martin Luther King was undergirded by spiritual strength.  Would I have gotten that yesterday if I didn't know my history?  I don't know.  As I say, it was very subtle.

Our spiritual narratives of captives set free reminds us that we may think that our dreams of liberation seem impossible, but they're not.  Yesterday's Inaugural events did the same.

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