I have been resisting the urge to write about the Inauguration for several reasons. One is that I am sorely tempted to toss off one last lurid anti-Bush screed. While he no doubt deserves it, I am determined not to do that. The sun set tonight on the Bush Administration. Tomorrow it will be a New Day in America. I want to let the past go.
The second reason I have been avoiding writing about the election is that I don't want to allow myself to get carried away with my joy at the fact that We The People appear to be on the verge of taking back our country from those who would have destroyed the very things we hold dearest: Freedom of Speech; Freedom of Religion; Due Process; The Rule of Law. Liberty and Justice -- for ALL. As joyful and hopeful as I feel tonight, I believe that we must be very careful not to expect too much of President Obama too soon. He has inherited an unholy mess. He will need time to get acclimated to his new job. He will need our permission to try things that will fail, and then to try something new. We have to allow for a learning curve once he assumes office.
It will very likely be years before this country can be turned around and put back on the right track. President Obama won't be able to do it all by himself. He can lead us, but we have to follow, and participate, and cooperate. And, yes, By God, we'll have to SACRIFICE. The next two to three years will be very hard. I imagine the economy will get worse before it gets better. Americans are not patient people. I am very afraid that if we let ourselves get carried away by our joy now, we will expect too much, too soon, and the nation that called Barack Obama to lead it could turn on him in a minute. I don't want to contribute to that.
Cautious optimism is called for now. We need to be moderate in our celebrations, and in our expectations.
My head knows that.
But, oh, my Lord, my heart has totally different ideas!!!
When I see a man stand up before his country and say "Yes, We Can!" despite all the obstacles, I want to stand up and shout. When I hear a moderate, intelligent, and clear voice call us forward to a new day, I want to follow, with jubilation. It's going to be a long, hard road, but we've made the first step.
After the ordeal of the last eight years, that, all by itself, is enough to make me stand up and shout: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, Almighty, we are free at last." (Happy Birthday, Rev. King!)
I don't do much in the way of "intentional praying" any more (although I do tend to have a sort of subliminal conversation with The Holy going on more or less constantly). In recent years, that subliminal conversation has often been along the lines of "Lord, have mercy on us." In coming months and years, I hope to change my tune to "Strengthen him (and us), Oh, Lord".
I don't know how it will come to pass or how long it will take, but for the first time in years, tonight I am allowing myself to feel a tiny spark of Hope for my country. I can feel Hope because I believe in the power of Grace. And, Grace is the only explanation for the fact that tomorrow night this time Barack Obama will be our president, and the scoundrels who have been trying to destroy our way of life are scurrying away to crawl back under whatever rocks they climed out from.
God have mercy on our new President, and on all of us.