At the inauguration of our president, Joe Biden, and vice president, Kamala Harris, Amanda Gorman, a beautiful, young 22-year-old black woman, recited a remarkable poem, The Hill We Climb. Amanda is the youngest inaugural poet ever. She was the first person ever named national youth poet laureate. She told the New York Times she wrote her piece “to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal.”
We’ve got a lot of healing to do. In Amanda’s opening remarks, she asked “When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” When day comes and we’re scrolling through our MSN news feed, it’s not a feel-good moment. When we listen to the news, it’s not encouraging. The headlines are not full of love, joy, peace, and hope.
You don’t need me to tell you that life is challenging. Even before COVID, our communities, our neighborhoods, our neighbors, friends, and family were all facing challenges not expected, never imagined, challenges that have continued to get bigger and bigger, more and more complex, challenges that are too often encased in hate—bravado, not bravery, brashness, not boldness.
In response, debates and discussions divide, demean, and deter, often helping no one, solving nothing. As the gavel comes down, frustrations, disappointments, anger, and determination spill out into the streets. And while I’m looking for someone to blame, big challenges get bigger. Complex challenges get more and more complex.
There are no easy solutions to homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, suicide, suicide among children, suicide among our veterans, illegal immigration, crime, the high cost of housing, the high cost of medical care, the high cost of this virus. Too many important questions get left hanging in the air. Too many important issues of the day get trivialized and reduced to soundbites. Difficult conversations are plagued with public posturing. Public debates don’t just shred arguments, they shred character. Shouting matches shame, belittle and begrudge.
But Amanda reminded us, “The dawn is ours before we knew it.” Adding “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.”
When you and I are bold and brave, we close the divide. We put our differences aside. When we come together as women of faith, we are able to “reach out our arms to one another,” quoting Amanda. “We seek harmony for all.”
My second trip to New York included a second visit to the Museum of Modern Art, because I needed a second look at Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. Monet’s masterpiece is huge. The panels take up an entire wall of the museum. My first reaction both visits was to walk right up to the painting. Standing beside the artwork, you can’t see the actual picture. All you can see are globs of color and brushstrokes that look messy, not mesmerizing. But up close you can see Monet’s boldness. I would even add the bravery of his choices. Not until you step to the other side of the room can you see his famous lilies, the reflection of clouds in the pond. Up close you can only see dabs of yellow paint, splotches of blue and purple, pink and green. From a distance, you can see depth and shadows. Standing back, you can see a peaceful Japanese-style pond covered with beautiful lilies.
Your boldness is a beautiful spot of yellow in the day. Your bravery is a carefully added stroke of blue. And standing in the moment, that may be all you can see: spots of color, strokes of time. But one day you’ll find yourself standing back just far enough to see a most beautiful picture.
Thinking about being bold and brave, it’s easy to doubt: A few words of loving kindness are going to change the dialog? Change the discourse? Our own “WOLK with God” is going to change Amanda’s world? Yes, not because of what you and I will do, but because of what God’s Holy Spirit will do. Let me repeat: Not because of what you and I will do, but because of what God’s Holy Spirit will do in, through, and around us. If we step back and give ourselves the opportunity to see the beauty that is in front of us, the picture is going to take our breath away!
Previously I’ve cautioned: IF WE DO NOTHING, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. I also encouraged: IF WE DO SOMETHING, THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.
I truly believe we can have a meaningful impact on those places and people that mean the most to us—in the smallest moments, the smallest conversations, and also the bigger ones, the harder ones. Because we are women of faith and we are part of a bigger, more important purpose. We can be agents of change. We can change the dialog, change the discourse. We can make a difference—today, right now. I believe it can be so!
Today’s a blank page in our book. Be bold. Be brave. Be you—for you, for those around you, for all of us.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit.
Let Amanda’s final words guide us: “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.”
Be bold. Be brave. Be you.
Speaker | Writer | Author
Before my father died, he reminded me that Mom had asked me to write a book. At the time the boys were in college, and the notion of writing was unfathomable. Writers write books. By the time my boys were adults, I’d run out of excuses. I was also at that age when I could pause and reflect.
Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace was my first publishing endeavor. My second was Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Both are collections of stories that tell of God’s love and faithfulness. Both tell of His remarkable grace and mercy.
When not writing, I serve as the Client Service Coordinator for The Planner’s Edge, an investment advisory firm in Washington state. I’m active in my church, serving on the Leadership Team and gathering with a wonderful group of ladies to study and giggle over lattes and chocolate. On my desk is a rock with the words “Choose Joy!” etched in it. It’s my inspiration for each day. As an author, it is my hope that my own words might share that joy we find together as children of God.
With Him, it can be so.
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