AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL (Katherine Lee Bates)

“O beautiful for spacious skies,

for amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on these,

and crown thy good with brotherhood

from sea to shining sea!

Words to wonder over. This Continent, like all continents on our fragile planet earth, is filled with life and beauty. It is filled with wonder – and it is a gift. We did not create it, but we are given responsibility for it. This song, like the Lords Prayer, reminds us of the gift that we have received, and that is is there for all – not just the few. It reminds us of our responsibility to one another – and to the land and water that has been entrusted to us for the good of all.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet

Whose stern impassioned stress,

a thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God mend thy every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control

They liberty in law!

The wonder of freedom; we are created, in our awareness, with the gift of freedom. This is an awesome gift – we are free to rape and pillage – to bring death wherever we go, and at the same time, we are free to bring life – to bring a sense of brotherhood as we continue our common pilgrimage together through life, helping and healing, nourishing and loving all that is. We are called to recognize that freedom is a gift for all, so that each one can identify and achieve her/his potential giftedness and share it with all.

A reasonable reading of human history demonstrates the split between our potential; between the centering on self or the centering on creation. The Scriptures tell the tales of greed, jealousy, self-centeredness, hatred and fear and death. They also tell the stories of a loving God who walks with us, showing us the way to overcome the dark side of our creation in freedom. The stories of the creation of our nation, spell out these same hopes and dreams for a “More perfect Union.” But the scriptures and our original national documents spell out a dream that requires – demands a sense of responsibility to other – to move outside of our narrow vision and becomes inclusive of all people everywhere and their rights are our rights; our responsibilities become their responsibilities. Throughout history, we read the stories of division and war; or slavery and segregation of peoples, base on their religion, sexuality, race or ethnic background. Fear of losing what we mistakenly believe that we own drives us into darkness. Realizing that all that we think we own, is actually a gift; a gift for all of life liberates us; gives us the depth of freedom. The more that we think that we are the creators and owners, the more we fight to hoard and protect these things – we become slaves to things – to property and the illusion that we are in control. We become obsessed with the Ring – and are no longer free.

America! America!

GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE,

AND CROWN THY GOOD WITH BROTHERHOOD

FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA.

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