Saturday, July 4, 2015

My America the Beautiful

As we move through this shift in our history, how we define America has received quite a bit of debate.  What are our values?  How we do we recognize our past, while moving into our future?  Who is an American? Who has a right to become an American citizen?  The questions are endless and rich in controversy.  As we approach this holiday commemorating the ideals we all agree on  - Liberty, Independence, and Freedom - let's take a break from the noise and look at the beautiful America that surrounds you.  Here is a snapshot of my beautiful America.

There is nothing more wonderful than hearing English spoken with an accent from the another part of the world.  Even the mix called Spanglish - spoken by the mother that is struggling to learn and the patience of her daughter explaining a proper morning greeting.  There is beauty in the group of 15 or so Russian immigrant women meeting after hours in a local hair salon to learn English.  And as a child of the 80's it made me laugh (in joy) to hear my daughters Head Coach talk about the importance of Independence Day in his very distinct Eastern European accent.

My beautiful America can be heard in the mournful yet hopeful tones of the shofar.  It sparkles through holiday lights displayed in the early autumn as my neighbors celebrate Diwali.  Then there are the red envelopes that my children bring home in mid-winter as gifts from their Chinese-American classmates as they celebrate the Lunar New Year.  There is the beauty of the women in their Sunday best, which always includes a lovely hat, as we share the elevator on Sunday mornings as we head off to our services.

My beautiful America is seen in the hands that serve.  Those who prepare meals for the hungry at the Bowery Mission.  Those who rescue leftover food from local stores and restaurants, ensuring they get to people in need.  It is in food delivery services such as Gods Love We Deliver that gets the sick a nourishing meal. There is beauty in the way the nurses care for the cancer stricken.  And there is a sacrificial beauty in the hands of those men from the Gay Mens Health Crisis in the early 80's that risked their lives to ensure that the sick and dying were fed and kept clean when no one else would.

My beautiful America is in the smiling faces of friends who having endured years of struggle finally get their green card.  And even better, when they finally receive full citizenship.  My beautiful America is in the face of my children - their father is a 1st generation American, their great-grandfather on my side was an immigrant to America, and yet throughout the tangled limbs and roots of their ancestry they carry decades of family making their way to the shores of America.  

We all experience different facets of American life.  It seems lately, there has been much focus on what divides us.  As we celebrate this holiday, may we appreciate the beauty around us.  May we all live understanding that each of us carry within in us the hope of past generations. This is my beautful America.

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