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A Simple Gift to the World

My daughter and I had a tremendous experience today at the Inauguration. As a graduation gift, we splurged and hired a limousine to take us right up to the edge of the Mall. We arrived about 5:30 am, and after an hour of postponing the cold, we went out to the Mall about 6:30 am. We were greeted with a beautiful sunrise over a huge crowd that was already gathering:

Inuagural sunrise

People were in excellent spirits, if somewhat crowded. Our original vantage was very good, almost precisely in the middle of the Mall. However, after fighting our way to the porta-pots after a few hours, we opted to move farther back where there was a bit more breathing room. We were just below a Jumbotron, so we had a great view and could hear well. The outright joy when Obama completed the oath of office was completely overwhelming. We have a cell phone video that we will put on YouTube later, but for now you’ll have to settle for a picture that shows our vantage point after the cheering died down:


When I put up this post two weeks ago, I did not know that Itzhak Perlman would be performing at the Inauguration. The John Williams arrangement of "Simple Gifts" was a perfect choice for the event. As Perlman, Yo Yo Ma and others played, the words of the related hymn came back to me:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

I realize that the meme of Obama as "our savior" comes from the cynics, but just this once, it seemed perfect. Our country now is trying to overcome some of the biggest challenges in its history, and today when we installed a new leader it seemed that the desire of those in attendance was to join with him in the dance.

If we go back to the original Shaker hymn, then the words are even more fitting:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Today, after eight years of being in a very bad place, those of us on the Mall were in the place just right. We were in a valley of love and delight. May it last for all people of the world.

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Jim White

Jim White

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