Wednesday, January 21, 2009

heigh-ho heigh-ho it's off to work we go

I'm not at my best this morning, but both of us were smokin' last night at the Out for Equality Inaugural Ball. Everybody was already feeling fabulous, even after some frustrating "but I have tickets!" experiences, and music by Dave Koz, Katie Curtis, Thelma Houston and that ever-bubbling fount of exuberance Cyndi Lauper boosted us all way up over the top. (Rufus Wainwright performed too, remarking insightfully that he's not really a party dude, being "rather morose, but I look good, so it all works out.") The evening ended with Melissa Etheridge growling earnestly away; a friend and I agreed that we're fans of her existence if not her music.

One of the unscheduled visitors (Sir Ian McKellen said a word and Jamie Lee Curtis and Carrie Fisher were both sighted) was Bishop Gene Robinson, who spoke the opening words at Monday's We Are One concert (nearly attended by Fiona but not quite) but whose contribution was inexplicably not broadcast. Here is his prayer; to get the full effect compare it side by side with Rev. Rick Warren's. Whether you're Christian or not, religious or not, Robinson's prayer shows a future of faith that I for one can live alongside.

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 existon 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, againstrefugees 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 thatin 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 inthe 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.
AMEN.

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