didn't anyone ever tell you... this is your land, too?

My loved ones have been weeping since Tuesday's election. Members of my congregation
have been slapped with grief and fear, too. For many in America, it feels like a death has taken place. One person said to me after worship, "It's like after Kennedy was shot." There has been a death:  all illusion of America's underside has been ripped away from our eyes and now loving, gentle, kind and good-hearted white folk can see what has always been true for so many people of color, our LGBTQ friends, women, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, all of every gender who have been sexually abused or exploited, those with physical limitations or intellectual challenges and sadly too many more.

Back in 1935, Langston Hughes wrote, "Let American Be America" for Esquire Magazine. Today unless we are thoroughly blinded by white privilege, the ironic beauty of this poem speaks to our collect grief - and the potential for renewal. Not quickly or in a superficial manner that masks our various wounds. But out of local alliances of the broken, cadres of sober and loving women, men and children ready and capable to live out loud for love and solidarity, a living and humbled Rainbow Coalition for the 21st century.

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be. 
Let it be the pioneer on the plain 
Seeking a home where he himself is free. 
 (America never was America to me.) 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed— 
Let it be that great strong land of love 
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme 
That any man be crushed by one above. 
 (It never was America to me.) 

O, let my land be a land where 
Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, 
But opportunity is real, and life is free, 
Equality is in the air we breathe. 
 (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”) 

 Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
 And who are you that draws your veil across the stars? 

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, 
I am the black man bearing slavery’s scars. 
I am the red man driven from the land, 
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— 
And finding only the same old stupid plan 
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. 
 I am the young man, full of strength and hope, 
Tangled in that ancient endless chain 
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! 
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! 
Of work the men! Of take the pay! 
Of owning everything for one’s own greed! 

 I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. 
I am the worker sold to the machine. I
 am the black man, servant to you all. 
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean— 
Hungry yet today despite the dream. 
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers! 
I am the man who never got ahead, 
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream 
In the Old World while still a serf of kings, 
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, 
That even yet its mighty daring sings 
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned 
That’s made America the land it has become. 

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas 
In search of what I meant to be my home— 
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, 
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea, 
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came 
To build a “homeland of the free.”

My people - family and church - have also rallied around one another in all our varied tears in ways so holy as to take your breath away. Life within and among us will become increasingly ugly - and dangerous - and so will the obvious need for our tender but strong love born of Christ Jesus. Dianne keeps reminding me of an old "praise" tune by Nashville's Point of Grace that cries out for a new day:  "This Is Your Land." We once used it back in Tucson for an LGBTQ festival - and I think it is going to resurrected among us in Pittsfield, too.

credit:  ArtParkS Sculpture Park


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