Warren’s Invocation: Three Words from President Obama’s Inauguration

Dear Reader,

Today I was moved to tears by words. Three words in Pastor Rick Warren’s inaugural invocation. Three words. Cloud. Witnesses. Shouting. Three perfect words. Words united with nine others to create both Warren’s phrase  “Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven” and my dream of this heaven:  Beaten down men shedding their overalls and shredding them to confetti. Mothers rocking their lynched sons back to life. Children flaunting penny candy they bought at the “white” five-and-dime. Images. Black Sunday worshipers and businessmen yelping, tossing their fedoras into remembering’s sunshine. Hands clapping backs, hands clapping hands, hands clasping. Shouting, even babies shouting, “Alleluia! Praise God! At last! At last!” and Martin Luther King weeping into his hands and muttering, “Thank you.”


5 Responses to “Warren’s Invocation: Three Words from President Obama’s Inauguration”

  1. 3 Barbara McNichol 01/21/2009 at 3:39 pm

    I, too, loved the poetry of the day — and the poetic justice that hung in the air. Your sentiments captured it beautifully, Faye.
    Do you have a copy of Father Lawrey’s benediction? If so, please share it. Here is the poem from Elizabeth Alexander.
    Praise song for the day.
    Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
    Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
    A woman and her son wait for the bus.
    A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”
    We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.
    We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”
    We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
    Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
    Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
    Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
    Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
    What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.
    In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
    On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light. – Elizabeth Alexander

  2. 4 Faye Quam Heimerl 01/21/2009 at 10:39 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts, Barbara, and for forwarding “Praise Song for the Day” to me. I only managed to jot down this line yesterday “What if the mightiest word is love…” Beautiful, so I will enjoy being able to steep in the wholeness of the poem.

  3. 5 Faye Quam Heimerl 01/21/2009 at 10:40 pm

    Both comments work wonderfully! Thanks.

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January 2009
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Photo Credits: Header - Barbara McNichol, Author - Bernadette Garcia

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