Over the past week, I have heard lots of conversations about the poem recited by Amanda Gorman on Inauguration Day.
I am old enough to remember watching Maya Angelou boldly reciting her own poem at a different Inauguration. I found her words stirring and still memorable, so imagine my surprise when I saw the year: 1993. I then went researching.
In all, there have now been 6 poets reciting words of hope and wisdom at presidential inaugurations. The first was Robert Frost in 1961, then Maya Angelou (1993), Miller Williams (1997), Elizabeth Alexander (2009), Richard Blanco (2013), and now Amanda Gorman (2021). I reread all of their poems, and I wondered what they meant when they first were heard and what they mean now, years later. You can decide for yourself, I know. But for me, Ms. Gorman’s last few lines will haunt me for a while.
For there is always light.
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Bay Shore, it’s the season after the Epiphany. At the end of our worship services, I say “Go in peace. Be the light of Christ.” The response we share is, “Thanks be to God.”
I cannot help but think of the poem’s words and our own poetry, our liturgy. I cannot help but see that there is always light, yes, but we followers of Christ must be brave enough to see it, and when necessary, and I think the key here in poem and liturgy is that it’s always necessary, to BE it. BE the light. To embody the Light as we are called to do.
It’s not easy, it is not. But I am also positive that it is not meant to be an easy road, an easy choice, an easy life. Ms.Gorman reminded me that bravery is needed, and bravery comes from the depth of our souls, Bay Shore.
So, my prayer today is not for peace, or comfort, or grace—all good things as you know, and all are needed. But today, my prayer is for all of us to be brave, to be the Light we are called to be, and to shine at the time our Light is threatened.
Let there be no doubt that you embody the very best of what Christ has called us to be.