November 4, 2008

A Prayer for My Country

I woke up early this morning, and as I do each working day, I turned on Good Morning America. I looked out the window to see just what kind of day it might be. A misty fog had settled over my suburban New Jersey neighborhood, but the morning was warm despite the calendar. Through the fog I could see the crowds of cars and people across the street at our middle school - the polling place in our section of town. On the television, aerial shots of long lines of voters all over the country. America speaks and her voice is clear and strong.

I find that I have, ever the patriot, tears in my eyes. There is no greater pride in my country than on a day such as this. Can you feel it? History is being made before our eyes today. Perhaps, more important, hope in a better day seems to surround us. Faith in our ideals - those that founded our nation - and faith in this process of choosing a leader seem more alive than I have ever witnessed.

So I sat down to pray. I prayed for my country. I prayed for myself and my family, and every other family all across this country who are facing so much despair and hard times. I prayed for change, because Lord, we really need it now.

I prayed for Barack Obama and his family. They will need their strength today. Yesterday, Barack lost his grandmother, the woman who raised him. I find it really sad that she passed one day before she would have the chance to see her grandson achieve a shining moment in history that no other man will claim. I find it sad that she will not stand with him as he takes the oath of the greatest office in our land. I prayed that his grief would not be suffered alone, but that he will be embraced by all Americans who know what it is to lose someone they love.

I prayed for his courage to remain the pillar we have come to know and respect. I prayed for God to protect him and guide him as seeks to lead us forward to a much better life.

I went over to the school, stood in line that was slightly longer than usual - and I cast my vote. And with that vote felt hope stir inside me for the first time in eight long years. I could not help but smile as I drove on to the working day ahead.

A great quote...

Many years ago I met my husband at the small town newspaper where we both worked. It was a small, but fun and nutty little group that made up the staff. And like any newsroom, ours could sometimes get out of hand - and often over politics. My husband was the managing editor at the time and amidst the sometimes heated debates he calmly sat at his desk editing this story or that, just doing the job. You'd think he was oblivious to the raised voices - but you'd be wrong. He missed nothing and when he had heard enough, he would calmly stand up and point people in the right direction. Argument over - just as simple as that.

A co-worker once referred to him as "the island of calm in a sea of insanity". I thought it was a true compliment. And I think I understand it better now than I did then.

I have thought of that statement often in reference to Barack Obama. His steady head and hand in dealing with two years of a very nasty hard road are impressive. All around him, voices raised in anger and, often in dishonesty. Accusations and outright lies, all designed to keep you and I from seeing the little man behind the curtain. Through it all, Obama has never lost his scruples nor his calm. It seems to me that his demeanor has helped me to curb my own anger at the usual suspects and their usual tactics. His dignity has caused me to take a closer look at my own attitude and behavior - and to strive to be better than I was before.

That says a lot for a man. I can easily count those who have come into my life, directly or indirectly, who have come to ask me just who I am and who I want to be. My father, my husband, my god-parents, my own children, a handful of remarkable friends - directly. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and JFK among those whose teachings have touched me and asked me to take a closer look - indirectly.

Now I am faced with this good man, Barack Obama, and he asks me a question I thought my heart would never whisper again. "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can for your country". John F. Kennedy spoke those words just before I was born. He wanted to change the world. All too sadly he was taken from us before his time and we never saw the shining America he envisioned.

Barack Obama will today be given that same chance - to change the world. And it's something he can do, believes in and asks all of us to believe in once again. And so I pray...