• The Lifeline of Rituals

    That Was The Week That Was

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“That Was the Week That Was” was a British TV show from the 60s that took a humorous look at the current events of the past week, a precursor to Saturday Night Live.   Even I was too young in those days to remember the show, but oddly, the song from the beginning of the show still rattles around in my head.   “That was the week that was; it’s over let it go.  It started way above par and ended way below.”  (ok, I didn’t really remember all the words, thank you Google.)    Here on this Friday the sentiment is still true.  That was the week that was, and what a week it was! 

I started on Sunday, struggling to keep myself in the mode of worship and by Monday had chatted with so many who are struggling with loneliness and depression.  The pandemic rages on while the vaccine rollout continues to crash websites and baffle most people.   I am lucky;  my daughter watched the websites and  led me to sign up here and there.  She led me to a site where I got an appointment just hours before the site crashed.  Now the question is, will they still have vaccine when my turn comes. 

I started to blog about ritual that help us stay connected to God and to each other.  Rituals give us a small sense of control in a world that seems so out of control.

Then on Wednesday, like many of you I participated in one of the greatest rituals in our nation,  the inauguration.   It was such a high.   Even without the crowds and some of the traditions, the ceremony brought us all the ritual of the transfer of political power.  I for one, clung to the formality of the process and procedure and the American version of pomp and circumstance. (Seriously,  did you check out Michelle Obama’s outfit,  such a trend setter.) 

 I followed the lead of the TV anchors who would say with the excitement of breaking news,  “let’s cut to the capital where the President is signing papers.”    And I would eagerly respond. “Oh let’s.”   Every signature, every moment was part of the process, part of the ritual.    Watching it and appreciating every element made me a part of the ritual.   That is the power of ritual even when only observed.

There were so many moments of the inauguration that sent chills down my spine.   President Biden’s speech calling for unity.   The songs by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez and of course, Garth Brooks singing Amazing Grace (acapella.)    Still, the poem by Amada Gorman took my breath away.   I include it in today’s blog because there is no better way to end “the week that was.”   Read it again.  Let the words sink in.  Each time I read it; some new portion speaks to me.    Yes, read it again because that is how we let go of “the week that was” and begin climbing the hill in front of us.  

Grace and Peace

Pastor Myra

The Hill we Climb   by Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished

far from pristine

but that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

but what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious

Not because we will never again know defeat

but because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time

Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future

history has its eyes on us

This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves

So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation

Our blunders become their burdens

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

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