On this 4th of July, We Celebrate Who We Hope to Be

I love this particular poem (I believe it was written by Charles Smith) because it captures some truths of who we are as Americans… and some hope about who we are becoming.

That steady hope empowers us as a people.

No matter your religious views or political persuasion, today is one of those beautiful occasions to celebrate the relationships that make our lives so rich and to take a moment to be thankful for who we are and who we wish to be…

Enjoy being with your neighbors this 4th of July.

“I Am America”

I am America.
I am aging vinyl curtains
that frame the voting booths
in tree-lined towns in Mississippi, Missouri,
Delaware and New Jersey –
the curtained booths that contain the seeds of democracy
given new life with every pull to close them,

I am ten thousand newspapers with glaring headlines
and pictures of those involved in the latest scandal
that unbridled power creates,
the latest corruption,
the latest unthinking act of indifference,

I am the stories of violence heaped on violence,
heaped on violence,
the latest murder, the latest tragic loss of life,
the latest act of despair,

I am the victims of anger, of forgetfulness,
of spiritual eclipse,
and the perpetrators as well,
I am their expression, and I am their healing,

I am America.
I am the flags waving in front yards
or hung in trees beside worn clapboard houses,
their red, white, and blue proudly displayed,
even when nothing else of the house
stands out with pride,

I am tunes on the radio that come in long drinks –
the twang of strings and guitar
singing the seasons of the heart,
the soulful landscape of love and loss,
of hope and betrayal, of life and death,

I am the reflection within all of the poignant
and tender search for grace and redemption,
the goal of the promised land,
the land of ease, the promise of peace.

I am America.
I am the land of plenty,
I am pancakes in the morning
with syrup running across warm plates,
and raspberries in winter,
and oranges and apples shipped
from around the world,
and big cars, and closets full of clothing,
and stores bulging with more than anyone
has a right to desire,

I am also the land of poverty,
where children go hungry amidst the plenty,
where the silent cry of despair
hovers over families that cannot make ends meet
who suffer even more
to see all that others throw away,

I am one nation but live as two,
with part of me invisible to the rest,
obscured by a shroud of denial –
the denial of a heart that fears to lose
what it has gained so that others may have,

I am America.
I am rich, I am poor.
I am noble, I am callous.
I am inspired, I am numb.
I am generous, I am selfish.
I am, in the end, growing,
as a child grows,
as a tree grows,
as the world grows,
out of what has been into what will be,
becoming the light and form of my destiny.

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