Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Two Prayers

Last night, sitting between me and my mom in the darkened living room to watch Obama's speech to the nation and the world from Grant Park, MG was quiet. She was so, so zonked--it had been a long and exciting evening--but she didn't interrupt or ask zillions of questions about every unfamiliar word, as she sometimes does when she's tired. I think she understood what an important moment it was.

Though she did keep murmuring, "Imagine, if your dad was about to be president!" and, "They're going to get a puppy!"

Just before bedtime, inspired by a commenter on the political polling site FiveThirtyEight.com, I said a Shehecheyanu with the Mermaid Girl for Obama's election. The Shehecheyanu is the prayer you say on the first day of a holiday, or for any new event. In our household, we've said it when MG lost a tooth, when she put her head underwater for the first time, when we had our first Shabbat in our new house. We said it when we moved up to Canada. We said it at our first wedding. Whenever something new and good and special happens, it's a Shehecheyanu Moment.

Its literal translation is "Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe [the standard opener for a Hebrew blessing] who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day."

Like so many other people, I'm heartsick about the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Andrew Sullivan wrote a post about it this morning that choked me up and bouyed me up at the same time. He uses a phrase, "the long arc of inclusion," that harkens back to a quote from Martin Luther King's speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967:

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

I'd heard it cited often, but had to look it up this morning to get the exact phrasing right. I'd always thought it was "The arc of history is long." Close, but not exactly the same meaning.

From some lights, it seems true today, and something to celebrate with a world full of Shehecheyanus. Looking at California, I can only hope that the arc is still bending. Based on the proportion of young people opposed to restricting same-sex marriage, it seems to be so.

The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. Like Anne Frank's quote about people being basically good at heart, I'm not even sure if that's true. But I can only hope so. It makes a good prayer, anyway, if one were a praying person: Please, Spirit of the Universe, if there is such a thing, or if not, then combined spirits of all of us together: Make the arc of history match that of the moral universe, and bend towards justice.

And bend it as soon as you, or we, can.

4 Comments:

Anonymous rachel said...

It will bend, els. It has bent, and will keep bending. The day will come.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Tall Kate said...

(I'm having trouble commenting. Darn it!)

This is a lovely post, els. The connection you found to MLK's speech is really cool.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Pamelamama said...

so eloquent, els.

3:57 PM  
Blogger suburban dyke said...

It will bend but it needs help.

We all must try to fight Proposition 8 which takes away rights already granted.
Please consider a boycott http://www.americablog.com/2008/11/why-is-sundance-film-festival-taking.html or donating money http://www.aclunc.org/ .

5:40 PM  

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