I am sure I was not alone this past Wednesday just before noon as I felt my shoulders relax as I watched the inauguration, not only of a new president and vice-president, but perhaps equally important what feels like the inauguration of a new chapter of our common life. With each song, solemn vow promised I felt something shift all around us. It was a reminder of how powerful ritual and tradition are in our lives and that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before in order to articulate what we stand for going forward.
But of all the historic and impactful moments of that day, none touched me deeper than the words and presence of 22 year-old, Harvard graduate, social activist and now youngest inaugural poet in US history, Amanda Gorman. It is hard to articulate in words the power of those 5 minutes many of us experienced together around the country and, I pray, around the world, as she so beautifully recited with such exquisite elegance the words of her poem written for this moment, “The Hill We Climb.” A New York Times article claimed she, “capture[d] the moment in verse” and while true it seemed to be so much more.
From where I stand, she “preached” what I call and claim as the Good News; she peeled back the layers of deceit and deception we have wallowed in for too long and helped us look directly into “the belly of the beast.” But she did not leave us there in the darkness. She reminded us in rhyme and perfect rhythm the dawn is here and we are not broken but simply unfinished. And then, who other me than me needed to also hear we are not striving for perfection but for purpose? Preach!
Finally, as if her words were offered just for us in the middle of this season of Epiphany- a time when we look for the light to guide us forward to reveal the path leading us home to our better selves, as well as deeper into the heart of God, Gorman closed with these impassioned words:
Our people diverse and beautiful
will emerge battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade
of flame and unafraid
the new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light
if only we are brave enough to see it.
If only we are brave enough to be it.
There is a dismissal we sometimes use at the end of church services that goes like this:
Our worship has ended, our service begins- let us go forth rejoicing in the power of the Spirit!
So my friends, as we move from this week of celebration, inauguration, music, poetry and promises- let us roll up our collective sleeves, commit to being bridges and beacons of light, doing all we can in the name of revolutionary Love to help heal this nation and move us forward together. Let it begin with us. May it be so dear ones, may it be so!
And may you never forget that you are loved.