Friday, October 03, 2008
I Buried an Obama Voter Yesterday
I buried an Obama voter yesterday morning at Arlington National Cemetery. Now I have to find at least two new ones here in Virginia to honor the one we lost.
Well, actually it's more accurate to say that I officiated at the commital service and, later in the afternoon, at the memorial service for a 95-year-old woman who lived one of the richest and fullest lives I could imagine. Her name was Sally, and for the sake of her family's privacy, I'll leave it at that.
When she died last month, I remember thinking, "the only two things that Sally would be disappointed about in death are not seeing what comes next in the lives of her great grandchildren and not living long enough to see George W. Bush leave the White House."
She could not stand George Bush!
That last time I visited with her, early this summer, we got to talking politics. This was just after Obama had sewn up the Democratic nomination, and she was so excited by that development. She reflected back on all the remarkable change that she had witnessed over 95 years in this country, and found renewed hope and excitement at the prospect of casting a vote for Obama this fall.
She was born on a farm in South Dakota prior to World War I, when travel was literally horse powered. Married to an Air Force officer, she traveled the world and had the broad-minded vision of one who was well traveled and thoughtful.
Though I didn't say this during the memorial service, as I think about her life I cannot help but compare her to Sarah Palin. Both women of the Great Plains and upper Midwest, the young governor does not hold up well in comparison to the 95-year-old farm girl.
Sally was, for more than 50 years, a member of the congregation that I now serve. She came close to leaving it twice, that I am aware of.
First, about 15 years ago, when the church welcomed into leadership its first out gay elder (or member of the church board). Sally did not consider leaving because the congregation elected a gay elder, she considered leaving because some folks in the congregation were up in arms over it. She thought, "where is the mercy in them?" and "the man is clearly right for the job and his partner is lovely."
That first gay elder and his partner of more than 20 years were at the service yesterday.
The second time she considered leaving was when I told her, a few years back, that both Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice were members of Presbyterian churches. She was deeply committed to peace, having served in the Red Cross during World War II, and she could not tolerate the War in Iraq and those who dragged us into it. In the end, she just said, "well, they are not Clarendon Presbyterians!"
She was a passionate believer in equality and in peace. Sarah Palin could have learned a thing or two from her.
When Barack Obama takes office in January, I will go to Sally's grave and lay a flower and a copy of Post.