“In Houston, Trennie Amusan and Craig Oettinger, reacted as they watched the oath of office and the inauguration speech.” Here is a middle-aged white man with short, graying hair, who wears blue jeans and sneakers, with an Obama sticker on his shirt pocket. Here is a black woman wearing a colorful, long dress, a head wrap to match, and over that, a cream-colored scarf. The white man and the black woman’s hands are joined, stretched across an open aisle.
This picture in today’s New York Times, taken by David Phillip of the Associated Press, is in a section of photos entitled “The Reaction” and includes only the quote above. We do not know whether Oettinger is Christian, we do not know whether Amusan is Muslim. It would seem so, from her dress.
The thing that struck me about the picture is the look that is being exchanged between these two human beings. A look that says more than can be articulated in words. It is a look of somber, yet joyful acclamation, a look that says, “The moment has come. It has finally come. Let us stop for one timeless moment and savor the healing of the wounds of centuries. Let us look in each other’s eyes, not as Christian man and Muslim woman, not as white or black, but as human beings made in the image of God. Let us be joined together this day, this moment, in our humanity, and in our hope.
What a day it has been. I rejoice that it has happened in my lifetime. I mourn that it has not happened before my lifetime. I pray for the man who has taken the Presidential oath of office this day—for his wisdom, courage, and intellect. I thank God for his ability to speak prophetic and clear words, and for calling all of us to be a part of something greater than ourselves. May each one of us step forward to claim our citizenship, to help him make the dreams possible, not putting more on his shoulders than he can bear. For we are in this together.
Lead us well, President Barack Obama. Go with God, and may God go with you on this lonely journey of leadership.
“We cannot help but believe that the old hatreds
shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve.”
Picture accessed at www.nytimes.com on 20 January, 2009