Monday, January 19, 2009
Awake, Dreaming, Happy
Here at the home of friends, we just watched CNN's broadcast of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s entire 1963 "I have a dream" speech, and it could not feel more relevant today. Celebrating King's birthday the day before Barack Obama's inauguration is the happiest of coincidences: it could not have been scheduled better by design. And in that strange way that events occurring while one is away from home become themselves part of the trip, the larger events forever entwined in one's personal memories, I felt a shiver run through me (though this was not the only shiver I had during the speech) when King mentioned the "motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities," which were segregated at that time, because on our travels through the Midwest and the South this past week, we have been in many restaurants and motels. Some of the staff of each were black, some white, as the travelers and diners were both black and white. This is now "business as usual" in our country. It's such an ordinary thing now, wonderful when set in historical context. And tomorrow Obama will take the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible. "Free at last," here in America, our job is not over and will never be finished, but it is good to pause and be grateful for how far the United States has come. Today and tomorrow we celebrate. Then, back to work.