Words of Hope

Poet Amanda Gorman reading her poem at the Biden inauguration

Words of Hope

Discussion date: Thu, Jan 28, 2021 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Silver Spring, Maryland, Community Online on Thursday Evening
January 28, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all Online on Friday Evening
January 29, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm

Dear Still Water Friends,

What stays with me most about the recent inaugural festivities is the inclusion and celebration of the gifts of Americans of different races, beliefs, and backgrounds. Poet Amanda Gorman summed up the spirit in this excerpt from her stunning poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

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’ve 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 gazes 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.

I have been working to understand the impact that white racism has had on my family history. I felt hopeful witnessing a public governmental ceremony promoting the value of inclusivity. At the same time, the burden of our history, in which some of our ancestors were oppressors and some oppressed, rings clearly in Gorman’s words. The celebration is for me bittersweet: I feel a sense of pride that her inspiring voice can now be heard, and deeply resonate with the grief and hurt that we carry from our historical wounds and wounding.

Turning to the practice, I sit with my complex mesh of feelings. I breathe in a sense of relief and joy that this moment in time has arrived. I breathe out my feelings of grief and personal responsibility for causing harm. I am intrigued by Gorman’s message of hope for our shared future, and moved by the power and beauty of her words.

This Thursday and Friday evenings, after our sitting meditation, we will watch Amanda Gorman recite her poem. In our Dharma sharing, we will explore these questions:

  • What part of the poem is especially meaningful to you?
  •  How do we accept our fraught history while staying open to each other?

You are very welcome to join us!

The full text of “The Hill We Climb” is below.

Many blessings,

Eliza King


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’ve 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’ve 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 gazes 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.
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 it 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.
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.
With 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 wind-swept north-east 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.
In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country,
our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms 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.

 

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jan 28, 2021


Share:

This week
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Sun, February 28

Evening Practice at the Yoga Center of Columbia

Evening Practice at the Yoga Center of Columbia

Evening Practice at Prana Yoga Studio

Evening Practice at Prana Yoga Studio
Mon, March 1

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Friends in Different Places

Friends in Different Places
Tue, March 2

Morning Meditation at Blueberry Gardens

Morning Meditation at Blueberry Gardens

Morning Meditation at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

Morning Meditation at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

Evening Practice at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Evening Practice at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension
Wed, March 3

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Evening Practice in Stevensville, Maryland

Evening Practice in Stevensville, Maryland

Spanish-Speaking Practice at Silver Spring Library

Spanish-Speaking Practice at Silver Spring Library

The Art of Mindful Living – An Interactive Online Introduction to Mindfulness

The Art of Mindful Living – An Interactive Online Introduction to Mindfulness
Thu, March 4

Morning Meditation at Blueberry Gardens

Morning Meditation at Blueberry Gardens

Morning Meditation at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

Morning Meditation at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

Evening Practice at Crossings

Evening Practice at Crossings

Evening Practice at Crossings

Evening Practice at Crossings
Fri, March 5

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Evening Practice at Blueberry Gardens

Evening Practice at Blueberry Gardens

Open to All Friday Evening Online Practice

Open to All Friday Evening Online Practice
Sat, March 6

Mindful Artmaking

Mindful Artmaking