I am utterly disinterested in politics, except today. I am watching the inaugration ceremony for President Barack Obama
There is no doubt that he is an extremely charismatic man, one who at this point in time appears to have integrity and at least he can string a sentence together without making some of the most spectacular publish gaffes, unlike George W. Bush.
I hope and pray that President Obama provides the leadership that is needed to a nation in great need. That he is a man who is able to be both directive and yet compassionate when considering the millions of lives that will be affected by his policies and decisions. I pray he is a man who will pursue peaceful means of reconciliation and justice over any form of violence or war.
I pray that this wife Michelle will be able to provide support to her husband, whilst finding her place in this brand new world into which she has suddenly entered. That she will be able to balance all the demands of being the First Lady, whilst still being a mother, a wife and a woman.
I pray for their two daughters, Malia and Sasha. That whilst their lives have been changed beyond recognition, that they will be able to still have a childhood. That they will grow up to be young women with principles and integrity who saw their father’s ideals and hopes and will pursue their own beliefs in justice and humanity.
Most of all I pray for the safety of this family. That they will be able to be the people God has called them to be and that they will be able to fulfill their part in history.
Today is truly a day of history.
So, I shall leave you with a poem called ‘I, Too, Sing America” that seems to sum it up for me. It was written by Langston Hughes and I heard Peterson Toscano read it at one of his shows a couple of years ago. It sent shivers down my spine then, and it has stayed with me ever since then. Somehow, it seems appropriate to repeat it here today.
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, am America.
Yesterday The Mister and I went Christmas shopping in Leeds. As far as shopping trips go it was fairly successful and we managed to buy quite a few bits, but as expected it was absolutely heaving with people.
However, the highlight for me was hearing the Salvation Army band playing Christmas carols in the streets. I love the sound of a brass band and hearing the Sally Army playing brings back memories of my childhood. I vividly remember the band going around the streets in Guernsey playing carols and I remember leaning out of the window when I was wearing my pyjamas and listening to them playing Silent Night.
When they started playing this particular carol yesterday my eyes just filled with tears. It kind of took my by surprise because it started me thinking about Gran Nora. Being away from home makes it easy to forget that she isn’t going to be there when I go home for Christmas. Suddenly the realisation that she won’t be there this year hit me and hit me hard.
Last year Christmas was horrid for me. I cried my way thought Midnight Mass and felt rubbish all Christmas day. The first half of 2008 was very tough for me but it improved distinctly from the end of August (no guesses why!) For a change I feel optimistic about Christmas, despite there being some news which I know I will find difficult to deal with. However, this year I feel that there is hope. This year I hope it will be a new story.
“Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent Van Gogh; ‘It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.’ You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained; and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.
My only temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, the remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.
O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.”
Henri Nouwen – A Cry for Mercy
On 7 October 2007 I went for the first time to a little Anglican church just down the road from me. That means I have been there a whole year now and I still can’t believe that I have found somewhere to call home. My months of wandering around meant that I was becoming disallusioned and desperately needing somewhere that I could feel at home. The church has given me the space to be me, I have hooked up with a cell group that is good fun and that has made a huge difference to my sense of belonging.
The church is at the centre of a village community and it’s focus on community has been one of the most important things to me. It has events for the community, prays for the people of the parish and expects to be central to the life of the village. It is a vibrant place, filled with hope and they have just started a big redevelopment of the building to make it more user friendly. For the first time in years I want to be at church and I miss it when I am not there.
I needed somewhere that I could be authentic, and whilst I am quite sure that many of the people at the church don’t approve of everything I do or say, I am still convinced that they approve of who I am. Last night I went to cell group and the new curate came to join us. We were talking about various things and she gave me a real affirmation of who I am called to be and she encouraged me to be authentic about my faith. A sense of belonging has given me back the confidence to be who I am, without shame and without excuse. You can’t buy that with a Mastercard!