A New Day

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman is a 22 year old Harvard graduate who was selected to be the inaugural poet at President Joe Biden’s swearing in ceremony today. You may hear her beautifully recite her poem here: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/20/meet-amanda-gorman-the-youngest-inaugural-poet-in-us-history.html

Title photo by Pixabay

A New Year Haiku

2020 Then
Pandemic COVID19
We want it over

2021
Capitol Insurrection
Who expected this?

Who would have indeed?
All those paying attention
Will it be over?

No one knows for sure
Peace and harmony might come
Or more rioting

What is the cause here?
Plenty blame to go around
Arrest each one now

A new day comes soon
January twentieth
Hold our breath ’til then.

Title photo by Pixabay

Peace

A while back I read a blog post by Brandon Knoll which resonated with me. Knoll questioned why we talk about people being at peace after death rather than during life. The question was raised by this sign (taken from his blog post):

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Life can be so challenging we forget to live in peace or feel it is impossible. I think it is only possible if we are mindful each day, each hour life should be at peace. Imagine a world where every person had that same goal. Alas, we are only responsible for our own actions.

We are therefore responsible for our own peace.

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Check out the post referenced above in Brandon Knoll’s “Chaotic Shapes” blog: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/123568371/posts/4814

A New Hope

A Poem by Mattie Stepanek – May 1999

A New Hope

I need a hope … a new hope.

A hope that reaches for the stars, and

That does not end in violence or war.

A hope that makes peace on our earth, and

That does not create evil in the world. 

A hope that finds cures for all diseases, and 

That does not make people hurt,

In their bodies, in their hearts,

Or most of all, in their spirits.

I need a hope . . . a new hope,

A hope that inspires me to live, and

To make all these things happen,

So that the whole world can have 

A new hope, too. 

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Mattie Stepanek

December Prayer

December Prayer

By Mattie Stepanek, December 1999

No matter who you are,

Say a prayer this season.

No matter what your faith, 

Say a prayer this season.

No matter how you celebrate,

Say a prayer this season.

There are so many ways

To celebrate faiths,

There are so many faiths

To celebrate life. 

No matter who, 

No matter what, 

No matter how,

You pray. 

Let’s say a prayer

This season,

Together, for peace.

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December

Trees

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The beautiful autumn leaves are gone and the deciduous trees look a bit like skeletons against the sky. 

For many of us, our thoughts turn to indoor evergreens burdened with red and green or multi-colored lights and ornaments.

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Decorations in your home may be blue, white and silver for Hanukkah or they may reflect a different tradition such as the celebration of first fruits which is Kwanzaa. Many European countries celebrate Boxing Day and each in a slightly different way. Ōmisoka is celebrated on the last day of December by the Japanese as the prelude or bridge to the New Year. Ramadan, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, may occur in December but will not again until 2030.  

Holidays

Celebrations are very personal depending on one’s country of origin, religious tradition or cultural preferences. We usually call such days “Holidays” whether or not they are official holidays in a particular country. The best way we can demonstrate love, show respect for others and be open to enlightenment is to not only share our values and beliefs but to try to understand those of others.

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 Greetings and Best Wishes

I feel good whether I’m wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. The fact that someone is wishing me well is what is important. To me, the only appropriate response it to wish them well with any words that they have used. It isn’t the word that matters most, it is the thought, the wish, the greeting. When unsure what tradition another person celebrates it does not seem to me that an all-inclusive greeting (Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings) diminishes my personal tradition, which is Christmas. 

So to the ninety-two followers of “Crooked Creek”  and readers from thirty-five countries other than the United States, please allow me to wish you Happy Holidays filled with love and hope for a kind and peaceful world.