Mankind was made of clay
Each of us in the very same way
from “The Very Last Day” by Peter, Paul & Mary
Fingers crossed. The nation holding its breath. Today’s inauguration brought new meaning to the term, “the peaceful transition of power” that up until now, has been one of the hallmarks of this democracy. Rumors and fake tweets about martial law persisted even this morning. What does the outgoing President have in mind we wonder? Will violent extremists somehow get through 25,000 National Guard?
A late entry in our wishful Washington concert was the song “The Very Last Day” written by Peter, Paul & Mary and recorded by Pam Mark Hall with a guest appearance by Peter Yarrow. It’s a song from the 1960s that brings the judgment of God to bear upon the need for human and civil rights. “Everybody gonna pray on the very last day when they hear that bell ring the world away.” And though this is most likely not the very last day, we can certainly use plenty of prayer today as this transition so far has been tumultuous. Everybody needs to pray. And keep on praying.
And for our Catch today, I am printing a transcript of the original poem, “The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gorman, America’s first youth poet laureate (she’s only 22-years-old) read by her at today’s Inauguration. From what we understand, it was freshly written to include the unrest at our Capitol building, two weeks ago. Click on the title to see a video of her delivering the poem and click on the title of Peter, Paul & Mary’s song to hear Pam Mark Hall’s version of it.
The Hill We Climb
by Amanda Gorman
Mr. President, Dr. Biden,
Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff,
Americans and the world,
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.
In the norms and notions of what just is
Isn’t always justice.
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 our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures,
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 will 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
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 her own time,
Then victory won’t lie in the blade,
But in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to 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 forest that would shatter our nation
Rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying Democracy.
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 it 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
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 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 one we were left with.
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 wind-swept Northeast
Where our forefathers first realized
We will rise from the Lake Rim cities
Of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
In every known nook of our nation,
In every corner called our country
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.
I’m sure I wasn’t this wise or eloquent at 22. So amazing.
Here’s President Biden’s oft-quoted (and perhaps favorite?) poem:
THE CURE OF TROY by Seamus Heaney
Human beings suffer
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.
The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.
History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave…
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.
Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky
That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
Did anyone watch the “Celebrating America” special last night?
One of my favorite segments featured Tyler Hubbard & Tim McGraw singing their song of unity and faith. Here they are from last nights show with “Undivided”:..
Yes, Bob. I saw some of it including the reading of that poem. I didn’t catch Tim McGraw though. Thanks for posting.
I’m going to read this poem as our devotion tonight at our United Methodist Women’s small group. It’s powerful and it speaks to much of what we work for in God’s kingdom. And yes, the event last night was pretty incredible. Great song choices. Much better and deeper than the usual fancy balls!
Amanda Gorman writes a great poem of good intentions. I admire her for that!! It is well put and covers all that needs to be done. The last four lines struck me and is and will be my prayer for the future of America.
“The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light.
If only we are brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
So her call is ‘to be the light’ for all Americans. That is throwing down the gauntlet to drop all differences, walk a mile in my shoes before you criticize and accuse, and begin to fix what is wrong with America. Do not let the light go out, it is closer than you think.
Pray with me and let’s get busy to let that light shine!!!!
And, thank you, Peter!
A new day is dawning…
And you know how to do that when Jesus, the light of the world, lives inside. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”