Thursday, October 02, 2008
Call To Prayer
In a phone conversation a few nights ago, my mother told me that she'd walked out of a church service praying that people would be able to see Barack Obama as they should. It occurred to me that this was about the wisest, most redemptively religious sensibility I'd witnessed during our election season. She wasn't stumping for him. I imagine she'd join me in praying the same thing concerning the way people see John McCain and any political figure over whom people can get--How shall I put it?--demonically worked up. There are people whose pulses will quicken if you mention how nice it is of Jimmy Carter to build houses for the poor, and there are people who will become visibly agitated if you calmly assert that George W. Bush means well and prays sincerely. I usually don't know what to do when meanness or rage gets hold. But I do know to at least try to pray. Maybe prayer is always just a try. Maybe there's a way of talking about these things that's prayerful without being sanctimonious. A way of communicating in something other than conversation-stoppers.
My mother said she was especially moved when she watched Obama exit the stage in Oxford, Mississippi. In my historical deafness, I didn't know what she was talking about. She explained that he would have been rightfully afraid for his life (and the life of his family) if he'd publicly appeared on that stage just a few decades ago. She was right. And she was right to be moved.
My prayer is that we would all be rightly moved. Righteously moved in the direction of the already-yet-still-to-come kingdom for which many Republicans and Democrats pray, never knowing what we're doing exactly. I pray that we would feel some affection--somehow actually like--the people we can't imagine ourselves voting for and the friends, family, and neighbors we suspect--with fear and trembling--will vote for them. Amid the din of hi-tech carnival barkers, loud televised people who claim to be without spin, and gentle mortals like myself who receive their words into their heads like a shot of espresso every few minutes through e-mails, radio broadcasts, and frantic visits to websites, may our hearts remain open to the possibility of being rightly moved.