Driving home from work tonight, I realized a growing sense of anticipation. It's been a very long time since my birthday or Eid generated much excitement. Christmas and Hanukkah were school celebrations once removed when I was little, fun, but nothing overly exciting.
Its the night before Eid, Christmas, Hanukkah and birthdays all rolled into one. That's how I'm feeling tonight. Tomorrow's that day of magic that seemed to only be a someday dream as how for children those days are always too far away to be real until suddenly it's the night before.
Election Night was amazing. I was captivated by watching the results of Congressman Michael Arcuri's re-election. The television was turned on and the volume turned down, as we tallied the numbers of that campaign. From across the room, the commotion on the screen distracted me from the scrolling numbers along the bottom and I knew something had happened.
Sadly, fear crept up my spine before any other reaction set it.
Then I saw the cheering... the tears of joy... the screams of ecstasy... the flags waving of pride.
I can still feel the sudden shock, the breath choked in my lungs and my heart pounding, as I realized that it was not the close of a journey that I'd just witnessed but rather the next step of this amazing journey that is America.
A nation, my home, that has grown from slavery to Presidency. Not someday or in the future or some other when that doesn't feel real, but right now, right before my eyes as I live and breath.
Election Day was amazing, but tomorrow it becomes real.
To all of you who called me a derogatory name, or thought I couldn't be enough, you who told me on Sept 11, 2001, that I should just be 'nuked to oblivion,' and you who just wouldn't see me:
Thank you for reminding me that we're not done yet.
To all of you who expected more of me, who not just saw me, but also listened, you who shared yourself and demanded the same of me:
The magic of tomorrow is the reality. And as all things real, it requires hard work, tending and expectations.
Thank you, Barack Obama and your family, for what you are about to attempt. To again put forth Reverend Robinson's prayer for all of us:
A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
It's nice to feel this excitement. It's anticipation and hope. YES, WE CAN do anything we commit to do. What's next? And what do I have to do to get there?