Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Martin Luther King Jr.
The other day, I had to grab a cab from downtown to get home. Unlike my memorable trip to find Pip's house, I knew the way this time! However, when the cab driver asked me where I would like to go, I joked and replied..."Montreal. I'd really like to go to Montreal." He laughed and seemed game actually, but then I gave him my address and off we went, yapping away like we'd known each other from another planet or something. Gotta love the friendliness of cabbies!
Our conversation ran the gamut of topics, led mostly by my philosophical and very intuitive cabbie. I was fascinated by his "take" on Quebec and our constitution, on bilingualism, psychology, and the very idea that we don't own thoughts we just borrow them in the space where they dwell (try and get your head around THAT one...loveitloveit!).....and in fact asked him if he was writing this stuff down (he's not, but I did encourage him to become a blogger....and gave him the link to mine so he may be reading this!) Anyways, one thing he spoke of really stuck with me and for some reason it flows into my thinking on this day of hope.....Obama's inauguration.
In the middle of a story he was sharing with me, he asked me if I knew the original meaning behind the word "universe." I had never thought too much about it before except that it had such a vast infinite connotation.......something almost so intensely open-ended, its galaxy seemed untenable and beyond my grasp. When I think of the word "universe," it makes me feel so small and inconsequential, that whatever i do in this vast expanse we live in would never really make a dent of a difference. I tried to put pull together what I had always considered the meaning of the word...... but then he broke down the word into three.... uni-ver-se.... this one word was formed by three words.... translated as "single-spoken-word".....or another translation is "turned into one"
Universe means single spoken word.....
or turned into one.
Today, we all watch in anticipation and hope all the while holding our breath as a man who inspires like no other on this planet right at this moment takes the oath of office. Our hopes are pinned on his lapel. Somehow, Barack Obama has generated such a universal feeling of action, of possibility that only change can produce even in the face of such enormous obstacles....he has somehow turned us into one. Obama, with his compassionate words AND his compassionate actions thus far has wiped away the face of apathy and replaced it with inspired energy. He has stretched our imaginations to include the fresh air idealism which feeds a sense of oneness needed to create a major shift in the collective conscience and consciousness of all. When he uses the chant, "Yes we can!" he is calling on all of us to take part.....American, Canadian, French, Australian, British, Kenyan, Brazilian, Mexican...... Have you ever experienced anything like this rush of energy across this universe??
Universe..... single spoken word.....
turned into one.....
How can he succeed against such odds? Only if we help....only if we all take responsibility for the long "to do" list which sits on the desk of the President of the United States of America, only if we recognize our role, our duty to make a difference. Obama has been clear that he can't do it alone. He has been vocal about the long haul ahead of us.....economically, emotionally, spiritually, how it's going to be fraught with false starts and small steps towards a better place. What is threaded throughout his speeches, is a message of a single spoken word. We must listen.....and act.
Yesterday to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr Day, Obama helped roll paint onto the walls of a homeless shelter for youth, beautifully and symbolically marking a challenge to all who are paying attention. Service in action.
Martin Luther King Jr said...."An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity"...... this is what I'm hearing from Obama.....spoken in his own calm, deliberate, intelligent manner....He is challenging us to live outside of ourselves, to recognize the thousand threads which bind us, to begin anew by doing. This leader of our times had chosen a single spoken word to capture the vastness of the issues of this planet.....
Perhaps this is how we can help make the untenable transform into possiblity....through our acts of service.... We begin to perform small acts in our communities, for our schools, in our neighbourhoods, at the local shelter, with a soup ladel in hand at the community kitchen, reading to a child at the library, donating to the food bank, buying locally, supporting one another, looking out for one another.....its all found in a single spoken word.
Barack Obama knows his destiny and success lies in our hands as well as in his own hands of action....this is the essence of a good leader. In his acceptance speech after winning the democratic nomination, he spoke of promise..."What is that American promise? It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have an obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect"......He goes on to say....."Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence but for every American who's willing to work. "
"That's the promise of America -- the idea that we are responsible for ourselves but that we also rise or fall as one nation: the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper."
"We are responsible for ouselves but rise or fall as one......"
Even if we don't live in the United States of America, we are enthralled because this man plans to lead us into working as one. His actions and his appointments indicate this. Turned into one. We are inspired when we hear the single spoken word....Service..... Let him reframe how we look at our universe so that we all feel significantly needed in the embrace of change.
It's possible. Yes we can.
Let the change begin.