Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your Responses to President Obama's Speech

The following are a collection of your responses to President Obama's Inaugural Address, that I have had the privilege of receiving in my email inbox. I stand in awe. Humbled. In love. Moved. Inspired. Hopeful. Grateful. Yes. For what unifies us, gives us hope, and invites us to continually be about the change that we so desire on this planet. I point you especially to the words of Nomi Nkomo, who, along with Colette Deharpporte, inspired me to initially publish the blog posting on Obama's speech. Nomi writes to further clarify why President Obama's line about creation vs. destruction was so powerful to her. I find her writing as a South African friend, alongside all of yours, insightful and wise, and giving voice to that which doesn't often get named, seen, acknowledged.

For it all, I say, "Amen!"

Happy Contemplating!

Nomi Nkomo said...
"Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." - President Obama
I can't even call it a 'favourite line'. It was profound. It was a truth. We don't speak those. They mean nothing to us. We feel them but we don't speak them because speaking them would give life to them. If it's alive, we have to acknowledge its existence.

What it meant to me was so much more than a message to the Iraqi leaders. He was saying 'forgive'. Forgiveness frees you to move forward and build. Holding on to anything is a hindrance and you focus on what is/went wrong instead of celebrating the lessons and focusing on what is important - you, your well-being, the people that matter to you, your future, your family, your truths, your reality.

"[Your] people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy" - What matters in life is your successes, not your failures. I need to remember that it's my successes that matter, not my failures. I... need to remember that people will judge me on what I can build, not what I destroy.

When he said it there was a stunned silence. Honestly, it was the most powerful thing he said. Live up to that and tell me it wasn't... you know?


Andrea said...

Amen, amen and amen, sister!


Jane K said...

Dear Melissa,

These grabbed me:
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

words of hope,


Sarah G. said...


tmr said...

thank you so much...i so appreciate your sharing this link and your sentiment ~ you're the best!

peace be...


Sondra Samuels said...

I love it!!

Sondra Samuels,
PEACE Foundation
1119 W. Broadway Ave.
Minneapolis, MN

Colleen said...

My favorite line is actually from his acceptance speech at the DNC
"Let us lead by the force of example, not an example of force."


Kate Johnson said...

Amen, Sister!


Cece Ryan said...

AMEN!!!!!!!! We got to watch it here at work on the big screen in our conference center. My Favorite is also “for we know that our patchwork……… and I do hope that we can finally put aside childish things, like party lines to accomplish the things that will serve all people!


Anonymous said...

My Dearest Queen Mab,

You have my AMEN. When the pastor started reciting the "Our Father" moments before the swearing in...I found myself joining in prayer love.


Jody said...

Okay, in addition to what you have written (apologies if I repeat anything you already had I'm trying not to) here are some phrases that stuck out to me.

-On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

-In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never given, it must be earned.

-What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

-To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

-For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

-But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism...

-This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

And of course all that you shared before which were the things at the top of my list before the ones I listed above.


Tanya said...

Amen my friend!! AMEN!!!


Julia said...



Sr. Rafael Tilton said...

Sr. Rafael

Julie Landsman said...

I loved the poem by Alexander too...


Philip said...

We'll I hate to rub it in, but I just had to say, "Yes, I caught it live!" I was one of the many who attended it….it was simply an electric atmosphere.

Brendan and Marie said...

How marvelous to get a glimpse into the world's reaction to our miracle! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Prayers for our new President, his Cabinet and our government--they will need them every day as they face the task of rebuilding our country.

Regards, Marie and Brendan

Ann Dillard said...


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration of President Barack Obama: Honoring His Words

Friends Far and Wide,

As a way to simply honor this historic moment in our Nation's history, in our World's history, I point to lines from President Obama's speech that struck a chord with me. I watched this at home on my television in St. Paul, Minnesota, taking notes and tuning in and out through tears and awe, joy, wonder. I turned to friends on Facebook, as my computer alerted me to messages coming through, simultaneously in response to President Obama's Inaugural address.

When Nomi Nkomo in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Colette Deharpporte in Northeast Minneapolis, posted the exact same excerpt from President Obama's speech as their "status update," I knew I needed to comment as well.

"Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." - President Obama


I honor the fullness of this moment, by simply echoing back words, phrases, lines, from this new leader's speech, that speak to my heart, mind, spirit and inspire me to lean into our future with hope.
"In the words of Scripture, 'the time has come to set aside childish things...'

America is a friend of each nation. We are ready to lead once more...

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace....

Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy..." -President Barack Obama
Again, can I get an "Amen"?

Here's a link to the entire text of his speech. I'd love to hear your favorite lines.

Happy contemplating!

In Peace, Love, Leadership,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Being Free and Mature in Love: A Prayerful Reflection on MLK, Jr. Day

Does this speak to you?

My friend Jody has the following passage from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, copied onto the cover of her journal:
"If your prayer is not enticing you outside your comfort zones, if your Christ is not an occasional 'threat,' you probably need to do some growing up and learning to love. You have to develop an ego before you can let go of it." -Fr. Richard Rohr in "Everything Belongs"

These words caught my attention this afternoon during our time together on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. With this passage next to Fr. Henri Nouwen's meditation for the day,* copied below, I have this inclination to type and sing boldly:
Love! Dancing! Space! Growing up in Love! Freedom! Yes! Woohoo!

Both priests call us toward a maturity, a letting go, a love that transcends so much of what our frail, human egos and beings naturally cling to. And this says volumes to my heart today about what true emancipation can be, and IS, when we get out of the way. The juxtaposition of prayerful words, along with the legacy and dream of Dr. King, hold some powerful implications, then, and lead me to ask:

What does it take to be free? To heal? To lead a nation? To have people and unity in our homes, and throughout the world?

Creating Space to Dance Together

When we feel lonely we keep looking for a person or persons who can take our loneliness away. Our lonely hearts cry out, "Please hold me, touch me, speak to me, pay attention to me." But soon we discover that the person we expect to take our loneliness away cannot give us what we ask for. Often that person feels oppressed by our demands and runs away, leaving us in despair. As long as we approach another person from our loneliness, no mature human relationship can develop. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive. For love to be possible we need the courage to create space between us and to trust that this space allows us to dance together. - Fr. Henri Nouwen

Happy Contemplating!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Audacity of Hope: Today's Prayer, Pre-Inauguration Day

Living with Hope

Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let's live with hope. - Fr. Henri Nouwen

I am inspired today by these prayerful words from Fr. Henri Nouwen. They take me to the notion of "hope" that Barack Obama has written and spoken about, and exemplifies in his leadership. It's all such an audacious thing, indeed! What a season and time we are all living in, eh? There's so much we are celebrating in Obama's upcoming Inauguration, following Monday's US Holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy and life.....These are two beautiful leaders of hope, who are fueled by our collective witness to this notion! Do you agree? I'm equally appreciative of Fr. Henri Nouwen's listing of other hopeful leaders.

I wonder, "Where do you consider yourself in this line up? What do you live with? How does faith inform your navigation and leaning into the present moment? Where is your hope as is relates to your future?"

Happy Contemplating!

In peace, prayers, love, hope,

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

International Communication...

Video Skype anyone? Goodness!

I'm sitting at the Fireroast Mountain Cafe in South Minneapolis, and for the past hour have been mesmerized by a young blond who is wearing a headset and has a small video camera mounted to her computer. She has been speaking softly in another language, and conversing clearly with a person via her laptop and this internet connection. She laughs. Smiles. Nods. And I hear this foreign language spoken that takes me to scenes abroad. To life abroad. I imagine different warmer settings and time zones and something outside the frosty morning here in South Minneapolis. I am happy next to this woman.

She packs up her computer and equipment, and I learn she was talking with her sister and parents in Germany. (I have to inquire, right?) She is an education student doing an internship here in a German Immersion school, and has been studying and working in St. Paul for the past four and a half months. She has four weeks to go. She shares that this technology has been a saving grace. "It's just like they are next door, and I can reach out and see them and hear their voice, and it makes me so happy, less homesick."

I have at some point in the recent past been conversing with many of you about what it is to dialogue across nations, lines, borders, races, classes, boundaries....and how we develop and maintain relationships while living, traveling, studying abroad. I'm especially interested in how we raise families and children in the larger world. Seeing this technology at work inspires me as I lean into my future and imagine the possibilities of life and love....Here. And Abroad.


Happy Contemplating and Communications!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Exploring "Church": Art and Its Power to Transform Lives

"Church" Written and Directed by Young Jean Lee, caught my attention this morning on the Walker Arts Center Calendar of Upcoming Events.

The pre-performance tour opportunity entitled "Art and Its Power to Transform Lives: Exploring Church - Beyond the Gallery: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Tours" is what took me to the home page and this new work by Young Jean Lee's Theater Company.

Here's some text from that site.....

"Her slyly subversive drama ambushes its audience with an earnest and surprisingly moving Christian church service that might be the most unlikely provocation produced in years." —New York Times

Playwright /director Young Jean Lee, whose Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven was the sold-out hit of Out There 19, returns with her most stirring and potentially disturbing work. Even as Church's charismatic and left-leaning central preacher defies traditionally held Christian assumptions, he conveys a passionate message about religion having the power to transform lives, backed up by three female ministers. . . .

Let me know if you are interested in seeing this!
Peace, Love,