Whatever your political persuasion (or lack of, as the case may be), today was an historic moment for our nation. Our nation--for the most part--yearns for change. Many are looking for it today. We must be reminded that the presidential office has the power to influence, but it is the people of the nation who have the power to produce change.
Let me offer my reflections on today's inauguration:
The crowd erupting in applause as Obama left the church after a time of worship and prayer was fascinating. Reporters commentated on how unusual that was for the cheering to begin so soon in the day.
There was much grace between the Bushes and Obamas as they met at the White House. I was touched by Michelle giving Laura a present upon arriving there. It seemed a very touching and gracious gesture, something that parents would have taught children to do as the polite thing.
The music and poetry was wonderful. Aretha belting out: “Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where our fathers died . . .” The beautiful melody that Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill and Gabriella Montero produced. The wonderful reminder of “the gift to be simple . . . the gift to be free.”
The picture of the vast crowd gathered on the National Mall. It really was a microcosm (albeit a grand one) of America gathered together. People from all walks of life: caste, race, religion, ability, political persuasion. All stood together as Americans.
A country bowed in prayer.
A speech of honesty, warning, hope and challenge.
The reminders of the oppression that was prevelent in our nation less than a half-century ago, of how far we have come today and how we're not done yet. We are all made in God's image.
The plea, “Help us make choices on the side of love, not hate; inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance not intolerance,” in the benediction by Rev. Lowry.
As I am watching now former-president Bush board the helicopter with his wife, I marvel at the relative ease in transfer of power--and the warmth that has been shown through it. It must be a quiet, lonley ride as they leave their home of the past eight years. However you feel about the former president, we must thank him and his wife for their years of service to this country, making hard decisions for what he felt was the best interest of the nation.
May we be mindful that Rick Warren's prayer should not be the first nor the last prayer said for our nation and our new president.