Tuesday, January 24, 2017

America the Beautiful

I’ve been thinking about the familiar anthem, “America the Beautiful,” since I attended the local MLK March and Celebration Service here in Temple, Texas last week on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Last year was my first time to participate in this annual celebration. This year once again dozens of people showed up to walk from City Hall in downtown Temple a few blocks to a local church for the celebration service. The service included prayer, scripture, speeches and music. I was entranced by the music, especially the loving rendition of “America the Beautiful,” in Gospel style with the whole congregation joining in. I was moved to tears by this heartfelt tribute to our country by those who too often have to fight for privileges I take for granted. Those at the celebration service obviously still believe in the promise of this country, perhaps even more than those of us who have not had to fight as hard for the promised benefits of being an American.

Last Saturday, I participated in another march, this time the Women’s March on Austin on the day following the latest Presidential Inauguration. I had never participated in that kind of gathering before. My husband and I drove to Austin, not quite knowing what to expect. I am still processing the experience, but I can say without hesitation that it was an immense blessing, reminding me of the goodness of so many of our people, whose faith in our country’s promises for each of us was evidenced by their presence in Austin and elsewhere. We stood for over an hour on the south lawn of the Texas State Capitol waiting to begin the march down Congress Avenue. We could not see much beyond the crowd patiently waiting around us with their signs, which provided thought provoking commentary as well as entertainment. I’ve learned since that the reason it took us so long to reach the street and begin to march was because somewhere around 50,000 people showed up, many more than expected.

Following these two events, and in spite of the rancorous divisions in this country at present, I’m feeling more hopeful. There are many people of good will who care about America and are anxious to see us live up to our professed ideals of equality and liberty and justice for all. Each of us who showed up to march expressed that hope by our presence and by our thoughtful care for all those other children of God who showed up too. I’m still thinking about “America the Beautiful.” It was also an appropriate anthem for this latest march:

“America! America! 
God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, 
Thy liberty in law!” 

Grace and Peace,


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