Words Matter

We Must Remember': Biden, Harris Memorialize COVID-19 Victims | WBUR News

On a day like Tuesday, when we as a nation were invited to grieve simultaneously over the horrible loss of more than 400,000 COVID-related deaths in this country, I was reminded that words are powerful to press out the pain that we hold in so tightly.

On a day like Wednesday, when we as a nation were invited to experience *live* the exchange of power in our country’s highest office in government, I was reminded that words are wisdom when we allow mercy’s presence to pull through.

Words have power and meaning. And Amanda Gorman’s poem recitation, now experienced across the world, reminds us all of the power of words. There were many speeches, both as endings and beginnings this week. The silence and absence of some spoke volumes to the character and presence of many. And words truly matter. We know their power.

Today, I’m leaving Amanda’s poem here, which reads like a prayer and a call, and I hope we can sit with it for a while. I particularly love her connections and play on words (which she’s been doing since before I started reading her work 6 years ago), which I’ve made bold in order to embolden these our contemplation. Examples like And the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always just-ice, let us pay attention to these. She also mentions Micah chapter 4; if you join Sunday Worship with Holmeswood (facebook.com/holmeswoodbaptist), you’ll be a part of this Scripture in prayer form.

(Disclaimer: While I relish in the Baptist distinction of separation of Church and State, I have experienced this poem as something beyond political agenda and fitting a sweet spot of the “needed now,” capturing the moment. It is important that the poem was recited at the inauguration of our incoming US President and, yet, another reminder of how we can connect to God in prayer in surprising places, if only we are open to such. So her poem became my prayer.)

And, for all of our sakes, enjoy your weekend. I pray you can rest. Ponder how you can be a part of living fully today, loving deeply right now, and being a part of #belovedcommunity (thank you, Dr. King) right where you are. Because of Christ’s mercy, we are loved. Not as we hope to be someday, but loved just as we are now. Thanks be to God! ~Laurel

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 (from Micah 4:4, 1st Kings 4:25, and Zechariah 3:10)
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 promised 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

-Amanda Gorman, Inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate

Behar B'chukotai: Fig trees and fear | Jewish Gems - Anita Silvert

One comment

  1. Thanks, Laurel, for posting The Hill We Climb. So much meaning and do many admonitions. What a day it was!


    Sent from my iPhone



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