I walked in the door a few hours ago with hope in my heart and alive with the possibility — the just-maybe feeling that I don’t get all that often anymore — that maybe our country, our world, has a chance to find its goodness and center again.
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and that’s part of it. Yesterday I put my professional chef skills to work and volunteered my services to make a lunch for all the folks in my congregation — and VIP’s in our town — who were headed for the town’s annual CommUNITY MLK celebration. The fact that there was a huge pan of food left, and that we arranged to have some volunteers take it to the food pantry in the next town, was even better. Feed our people, feed the hungry, and pass it on.
I headed to Boston to join my congregation’s Coming of Age youth (high schoolers in 9th and 10th grade), who were on retreat discussing our faith’s call to social action, how they can make a difference, and what our faith teaches about reaching out to others. We talked, we cooked together, we walked around Boston (oh yeah, we watched the Patriots lose a Very Important Football Game too) and I watched these amazing young women who are part of this year’s All-Girl Coming of Age class, talk about their dreams, their aspirations, and why they are Unitarian Universalists.
Then today we headed to an urban K-8 school to be part of the MLK Day of Service projects going on in Boston and throughout the country. I met folks from all over greater Boston, made Rainbow Fish craft kits for disadvantaged kids, watched others from our group make quilts for lower income babies, cuddle toys for homeless children, cards for service men and women who are protecting our country, scarves for people living in shelters. We cheered each other — all of us joining together to give back, even a little — and left feeling lifted up.
When we got home I switched on the television and watched our President and his First Lady walk down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House following the inauguration. And this evening I finally got to sit and watch the inaugural speech, in which this man stood and delivered, talking about the promise of this country and its challenges and opportunities — which must be open, with equality, to all of us.
There have been so many days when the news has been ugly. When I’ve sat here, shaking my head, wondering what kind of country I live in; when I’ve wondered whether the country that my grandparents dreamed of living in and emigrated t, will ever live up to the vision that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had for it. And then, I talk to my daughter in college in New Orleans. I hear her sharing her excitement over voting in her first presidential election – realizing that she is a part of this great experiment called democracy. I talk to the 10th grade Coming of Age participant who spent months working for Massachusetts’ now-Senator, Elizabeth Warren…a girl who now dreams of working to support the campaign of Rep. Ed Markey as he runs for election to John Kerry’s Senate seat and who thinks about running for elective office some day.
I see in the eyes of these bright young women the promise of tomorrow; the vision that they carry with them for a country that will offer equality, opportunity, and excellence in education. The singers who are part of Sweet Honey in the Rock once sang of what we need to do “if we want hope to survive”: March on. Teach on. Walk on.
Inspired by our children, called by our President, reminded of the legacy of Dr. King, and ever-hopeful, I remain ready to keep on in this struggle.