I Love America.

Occasionally you have one of those moments. A moment that catches your breath and makes you stop in place. A moment that cuts through everything that is going on in your world. A moment that stops time.

The first thing I saw as I walked up into the main concourse of Grand Central Station in New York City was our American flag. It literally stopped me in my tracks. My heart caught in my chest and all of a sudden, I felt a wash of pride for our country.

I was rather surprised because I haven’t been feeling all that proud lately. I’ve been feeling rough around the edges and bruised.  I’ve started avoiding the internet and news channels. My intention is not to stick my head in the sand but to maintain my sanity.

It’s scary that we have allowed our differences to divide us so deeply. We have allowed fear and anger to separate us into warring factions. Our frustrations are being channeled into name calling and I believe we have lost sight of how great our nation truly is.

I believe that we have much more in common than we realize. And I believe we all want the same things. We want to feel safe. We want freedom to pray (or not pray) as we see fit. We want the chance to create a life of opportunity for ourselves and our children. We don’t want anyone to tell us who we can love.  And we all want to be heard.

I see us as a great big family!  And our beautiful American family was on display this weekend in New York City!  A Mennonite family in home-made dresses going to see the Statue of Liberty. An Italian man surrounded by his playing grandchildren. A born-and-bred N’Yawka holding a door for me. A man on the subway playing his guitar and singing about politics. Men in long, heavy dreads sloshing through the snow. A Jewish family riding home from a protest.

As a family it’s our responsibility to take care of each other. Sure, some of us are loud and irritating. Some of us are shy. Some of us always want to wrestle and fight….and some of us are peacemakers. We all have a place in our family. No is left out. You belong, I belong and we all have to do our part in this family so we can feel proud of what we accomplish.

This country was founded by a group of determined, intelligent bad asses who weren’t going to take no for an answer. They knew we were great before we knew it! They knew our ideals were worth fighting for. They knew that “WE the People” had strength and a common purpose. Our flag represents all of that hard work, our heritage and our history.

We may not always agree how to get there – but we will figure it out together. We have survived rough patches in the past. We have made mistakes – we all do. We have apologized. We have fought and given mercy. We are strong and mighty and have the power to kick ass.

So, today I’m proud to be an American. I still feel a bit shaky but I love us. I love who we are and who we can be. I love our beautiful land. I love our many colors but most of all I love our hearts. Because we all want what is best for us – we just sometimes disagree on what that is.

As I rode the subway out-of-town I couldn’t help but start to sing quietly that old Woody Guthrie song.

“This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.”

Happy Valentines Day America!

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