Random Moments from a Holiday Weekend

Random moments of grace from the first half of a special holiday weekend here in Washington…

Having the time to read the New York Times slowly.  Many Saturdays I’m so busy with errands I zip through the Times and the Washington Post.  I’m glad I didn’t yesterday.  Gail Collins has a sense of humor that I love, and the start to her Saturday column had me laughing out loud.

Right now you may be asking yourself: How am I going to celebrate Barack Obama’s inauguration?

You may, of course, have something else on your mind entirely. Like what the chances are that the next time you get on a plane, geese could fly into both engines. Or what the heck geese are doing in New York in the middle of winter when their relatives who worked hard and played by the rules had all gone south months ago.

Or you may just be wondering how that rescue in the Hudson River would have gone if it had been led off by the Department of Homeland Security rather than New York Waterway’s director of ferry operations.

I can’t help you, people. Today I am on inauguration duty.

Yep.  I’m glad that Brownie was nowhere near the Hudson this week.  Collins goes on to skewer William Henry Harrison and the Obama campaign’s evolution into Amazon.com for all-things Obama.  It is a funny read.  Laughing is good for the soul.

Singing Lift Every Voice and Sing in Church.  It is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, so there’s a 100% chance that we’ll sing the Black National Anthem – Lift Every Voice and Sing – in church.  And our musical director Sonya doesn’t disappoint.  I love this song, although someone in my family who shall go nameless says it sounds like it was written by committee.  (She can’t understand the shifts between the A and B sections.)  Nonetheless, when I get a chance, I sing this with all the gusto I can muster.  It is moving even when 75% of those singing are white.  And today we had a bonus as Sonya also had Wondrous Love on the program.  Read my earlier post to find out why this is my favorite song in the hymnal.   He who sings prays twice.

Laughing Out Loud during A Prairie Home Companion with Andrew.  We’re driving along listening to the portion of Prairie Home Companion when Garrison Keillor reads notes from the audience.  One note says, “Enjoy the party, but not too much.  Remember that assisted living is a finite term.”  Andrew and I both LOL, and he adds, “That’s pretty good,” with a joke-lover’s acknowledgement of a well-turned phrase.  I love my son’s perspective on the world.

Reading Frank Rich and remembering my childhood.  Frank Rich is required reading at our breakfast table on Sunday morning.  Today’s column talks about growing up white in a segregated Washington, DC, and how so much of the city was unknown to him as a child.   I also grew up in southern communities, but our home – although on Main Street – was  next to the city’s African American neighborhoods.  I probably thought I knew those areas.  My parents were quiet but firm southern progressives who encouraged us to treat everyone with respect.  So I spent a lot of time on playgrounds with the kids from our neighborhood – black and white.  It was just normal.  But I now understand there was much I didn’t understand about being black in the south in the 1970s, a revelation Rich notes in his column as well.  Once I found myself as the only white in a neighborhood basketball game.  “Are you scared?” asked one of the kids.  I wasn’t.  But I did think then, and again today, that I really didn’t know what their life was like.  The MLK, Jr. weekend when we inaugurate the first African American president in the country’s history is a good time to be reminded that we still have a long way to go.

Lincoln MemorialClaire’s Inaugural Memories.  To her credit, Claire made up her mind that she was going to be in the midst of history this weekend.  Right now she’s at the Lincoln Memorial for the concert.  As you see the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, check out the story about the Daniel Chester French model of the seated Lincoln coming to DC.  Claire and Andrew saw that model last March when we visited the National Trust Historic Site Chesterwood.  On Tuesday, she’ll walk down to the mall with friends who live on Capitol Hill to witness history.  She’s excited…and I’m excited for her.

Listening to Patty Loveless Sing Hank Williams.  Is there a more sublime country singer than Patty Loveless?  I don’t think so.  On that same Prairie Home Companion show, Loveless sang songs from her new CD of 50s and 60s classic country, Sleepless Nights.  One was a beautiful and haunting Hank Williams song.

As much as I like Hank Williams, this wasn’t my favorite Patty Loveless song.  That would be the Darrell Scott-penned You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.  Written about the coal miners of Kentucky, Loveless sings this as only someone from eastern Kentucky can.  Enjoy the video below from Merlefest, and keep looking for those random moments of grace this weekend.

More to come…

DJB

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