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Over the last two weeks, I twice wiped tears from my eyes.

The first was on Jan. 6 when insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, desecrating the sanctuary and cradle of American democracy.

The second was on Jan. 20 listening to Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate, recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration.

The insurrection at the Capitol broke my heart on two accounts.

As an American citizen, the rioters revealed a populace within our country demanding supremacy over all others. As a Muscogee Creek, the echoes of white oppression reverberated while the broken promises of the United States once again emerged.

However, with the words of a young, powerful descendant of slaves standing on stolen lands, my tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy.

Gorman, stepping into a prophetic role, declared, “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded, but while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

Even more pointedly, she challenged each citizen, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Let those last words infiltrate your soul and inspire your step. Are we brave enough to be the light we need?

Many in our world want to offer a light they think we need, but providence often reveals the true light we all need.

Therefore, accept this challenge as dual citizens, one of country and one of heaven. Find the light needed and shine it brightly for the common good of all people.

Make certain the light shines on those often residing in the shadows: the poor, the refugee, the sick, the marginalized, the imprisoned, the other – all teetering on a loss of hope.

As people of good faith, let’s discover a way forward where we can be the light.

Let us show grace when revenge is tempting.

Let us demonstrate mercy when condemnation seems satisfying.

Let us find solidarity in diversity when partisanship seeks to divide.

Let us learn to listen with compassion when biting words form on our lips.

Let us act in kindness when lashing out feels natural.

Let us choose to love when hate seeks to destroy us.

Let us move forward with hope when despair seeks to overcome us.

And let us “be” the light when darkness reemerges.

After four years of a politics and theology of division, the opportunity for a new day stands before us. I pray for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, for their success is our success.

However, the success of the country does not depend on them alone. It relies on each of us to hold them accountable while supporting them at the same time. As citizens, we must do our part to make the country a more perfect union – not solely for ourselves but for all who call this country home.

The triumph of democracy is not found in the overt demonstration of strength, but in the wisdom of exerting restrained power and the distribution of abundant grace. The pinnacle of the American dream rests solely on a just society and a tangible hope for all who dare to dream.

The last two weeks revealed the stark contrast between two Americas. If the American experiment has a hope to persist and thrive, then we must find common ground to “be” the light to one another.

Finding common ground to be the light will take hard work and sacrifice. Failure is not an option, for the implications are far too important. We must embrace our duty and carry on for the sake of future generations.

Democracy prevailed this week, even after an attempt to dismantle it two weeks ago. In the shadow of insurrection, a beacon of light burst through with Americans continuing to find ways to “be” the light we need for all people.

May the future of our union remain strong, as inclusion, freedom and justice for all must be at the core of our democracy.

May the hand of God’s providence remain upon our country, as we humbly move forward with a new president leading into a bright, new era.

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