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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Notes on a napkin

My very dear friend and my 'anam cara', the Rev'd Dr. Paul Smith, is a civil rights veteran, minister, educator, author and diversity role model.

He took his children and grandchildren to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama and, because of the tight security, was not able to bring his journal with him. So, being the creative sort that he is, collected some paper napkins from the deli where he and his family stopped for something to eat en route to the celebration.

These are his thoughts, which, to my eyes, read like an Inauguration Poem of The People, By The People, For The People.

If his words resonate with your thoughts, let him know over at his Blog, where you will find this and other provocative, creative essays.

Oh, and by the way, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Paul to the pulpit of the Episcopal Church of St. Paul on Sunday, March 1, 2009. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by. You won't be disappointed.

Notes on a Napkin:
At the Inauguration of Barack Obama,
January 20, 2009

Unable to carry my journal to the Inauguration of Barack Obama, I took several napkins from the deli where we stopped to get warm enroute to the mall. The morning was very cold however, it did not take away the enthusiasm and excitement of my family.

I could not contain the thoughts which swirled in my head as I witnessed thousands of people making their way to the mall to be a part of history. The sun shone brightly as we approached the mall already filling up with people from all over the world.

With my napkins in tow and with cold fingers I began jotting down my thoughts as they occurred to me. Here are my notes just as I wrote them on the napkins:

faces of people of all with glasses, without glasses, beards, mustaches, scarves wrapped around faces to keep out the cold; smiling faces - - -conversations on the metro very transparent

hawking vendors Obama items everywhere my grandchildren clinging to their parents Paula and Alex their eyes wide open Obama chants and shouts hugging tightly each of my grandchildren watching my daughters as they watched me unafraid to let my tears flow huge crowds happily moving towards the mall- like Drum line

long, long lines of people waiting patiently no rushing or pushing or anxiety of the crowd proud, very proud black people all along the route the civility and politeness of the crowd we were convinced today is America's day like America has been asleep for eight years

over 2 million people in attendance MLK, Jr. is here on the mall with us today can you believe it? Aretha Franklin singing My Country Tis of Thee was a crowd changer the quartet that followed made the crowd very quiet and reflective- silence could be seen and felt people straining their necks to get a better view

people in wheel chairs being pushed by others older people with portable oxygen tanks slowly making their way to a special spot Bill Clinton's face showed unhappiness-George Bush's face seemed to say "how quickly will this end?

the man and wife I over heard saying "I would not have missed this for anything" what an inclusive gathering of people remembering standing on the mall with folks from FPC during the civil rights movement- civil rights crowds were louder and spirited and noticeably challenging the system

a proud day for America Selma demonstrations were mostly attended by black people-not so today it is very important for all of America to be present on the mall today strangers standing side by side hugging each other spontaneously not one, not one arrest or disturbance no particular dogma, or faith, nor ethnicity nor race nor gender was dominant. . .

I give thanks to you O, God for allowing me to be present today to witness the audacity of hope.

I could hear the angels singing. O what a day!

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