prayer and quiet waiting: DNC 2016 part one...
So let me confess from the outset: I wept without reservation 3 times tonight during the DNC 2016 in Philadelphia. Frederick Buechner used to advise us to pay attention to our tears. " Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next."
The first time came when Paul Simon sang "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." This was soul food on so many levels: recognizing the very real differences that exist in our nation and world, acknowledging the differences (real and imagined) between Hilary and Bernie and inviting us into a truth that are greater than our differences: "I'm on your side..." This is prayer language with pop/gospel music and it brought the convention into focus: we are not petulant adolescences or polarized individuals disagreeing with our parents and/or leaders, we are sisters and brothers struggling for the the future and the soul of our nation.
The second time was when Al Franken and Sarah Silverman spoke - especially when she told us of "feeling the Bern!" She honored the profound contribution and hope Senator Sanders evoked and mobilized over the past 18 months. And then, with equal candor and zeal, she told the ideologues in the crowd to "Stop being ridiculous." It was an invitation to grow up and take account of a reality bigger than our respective hurt feelings or disappointments. As a Bernie fan, this was powerful to me and spoke of the deep consequences involved in this election from the Supreme Court to the needs of working women and men - and freedom of choice on every level.
And then there was Michelle Obama... words are not great enough for her personal testimony of what it means to live into the promise of American equality and justice. She made it real, she kept it grounded and did so with grace, humor and integrity "Every morning I wake up in a house built by slaves..." Her very essence celebrates what binds us together - and what is at stake in this election. And I am not ashamed at all to say I wept and wept and wept - and they were tears of joy, gratitude and solidarity.
One of the people I read on FB from time to time wrote that she did not get the "religious" feelings some people have when it comes to love of country. I do - not when our American dream is forced to pander to race hatred, fear of the immigrant or economic discrimination - but I still am stirred whenever I sing "America the Beautiful." It is not the only blessed nation in creation, but it is my blessed nation and I cherish the call to care for our people and our land in respectful and just ways.
I don't have much to say about either Elizabeth Warren's address or Bernie's swan song. They were both clear, predictable and played to their respective audiences. And while I am grateful that Senator Sanders didn't pull a Ted Cruz - Bernie has too much integrity (and Hilary was not a cruel and belligerent bully towards his family either) - neither speech touched me. I thought Bernie's highlight was the emotional response of his followers at the start of the speech. They are genuinely people of the dream, too - and I have the greatest gratitude for them.
The energy of this opening night was just as Cory Booker said: it is about loving one another and needing one another not tolerance. It was profoundly different from the fear and hatred of the RNC. Let's see where this takes us tomorrow...