There are days so full of gift they take your breath away. Yesterday was one of those days. It was a day slow to evolve. This was partly driven by the snow that filled the skies and overflowed onto the roads and sidewalks. To have moved quickly through this would have been unwise. Sitting in a chair, watching the silent fall of flakes, created a mantra of unfolding that was not to be rushed. Since I had chosen to work from home, to not battle the elements or the other drivers, I had the luxury of allowing the day to arrive in its own sweet time. It seemed a very Adventy thing to do.
After much paperwork and a long list of phone calls had been made,I prepared myself for the gift of the afternoon. It was my privilege to attend the swearing in ceremony of one of our dear ones who was taking on the mantle of citizenship of these United States. I had only attended one of these some time ago when family friends welcomed their adopted Korean son into full citizenship. He was just a youngster and the event happened on the steps of the State Capitol. It was near the Fourth of July and had a very festive feel, steeped in the heat of summer. Many children were a part of this experience. It was wiggly.
Yesterday’s event was quite different,housed as it was in the midst of a mini-snowstorm, on a day that was quite unlike days many of those being sworn in had known in their native lands. We arrived just as the ceremony was beginning and came into a room packed with people, beautiful people,in all the various shades and hues humanity can clothe itself in. Those being sworn in filled the front part of the large courtroom. Those of us who came in support, love and admiration, took up the back of the room. There were babies and grandparents, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, partners and friends. The room seemed almost too small to hold the emotion and excitement. The very walls could have been breathing in and out with the expectation.
As I sat there looking out over the room, I was reminded how often I travel in a world where people look basically like me. Most of the places I go, restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, even church,is made up of people who look fairly similar. And yet this is not how the world is! The world is so much more beautiful, so much more varied and colorful, than my little, tiny slice of it. This amazing palette of people, created in the image of the One who breathed us all into being, is an ever birthing piece of artwork and I am wise not to forget it.
I tried to imagine the life stories of the 71 people who had worked so hard to be sitting where they were. The forms they filled out. The books they studied. The questions they answered. The facts they memorized. Where had each come from? What did they sacrifice to be here? What do they hope for? How will this citizenship change who they are and set a course for their lives and the lives of their families in a new way? So many questions. So much to admire. I was filled with humility in the face of it all.
The judge who presided over this ceremony reminded these new citizens that they each had much to offer their newly adopted country. Their offerings were grounded in all they had brought with them from their natives lands….their music, customs, clothing, traditions and faith traditions. She impressed upon them that these gifts they have to offer is what makes this country great. By this time the tears were streaming down my face. I wanted to stand and shout: “Amen! Preach it, sister!”
Sitting as I did yesterday in the midst of this rainbow of humanity, I was reminded of so much. The freedoms I often take for granted. The beauty of this land I love. The way I often live small, forgetting the fullness of the family I have been born into. The human family. Those who walk upright and speak countless languages. Those whose skin is similar and very different than mine. Those who sacrifice and scrape and save to make a life. Those whose joy spreads across smiling faces and tear stained cheeks.
As Advent days go, this one was fuller than I could have imagined. And for that I am grateful.