The crowd was gentle.
Except I wouldn't call it a crowd. A gathering would be a better characterization. A peaceful gathering of people both serious and joyous, counting the minutes till the future.
I heard it described as part Woodstock, part religious revival. But the comparison seems superficial. It was Woodstock only in that there were a lot of young people (though not only young people) in a good mood gathered in an open space listening to music (they replayed selections from the Inaugural concert). It was a religious revival in that we stood with overflowing hearts, secure in the belief that better days are ahead - IF we focus on the task and work together to make it happen. A very Jewish vision, really. God isn't going to cure the ills of this country and this world. Even Obama, much as we believe in him, isn't going to do it. It will be up to all of us, each of us, to right the wrongs and mend the cracks.
Serious and joyous. An integrated crowd. There was no escaping the special meaning of that morning. And the multi-hued nature of the gathering, along with the multi-hued nature of the direct participants and of the people who worked for 2 years to make this moment possible - this true rainbow nation was another step in the journey.
I've been feeling very peaceful since then. Sick, it's true, enough to summon up the energy to make a nice big batch of Jewish chicken soup. (It's the fresh dill that makes it taste Jewish, I think. And the parsnips.) My mind is rambling, it's hard to pin down all the aspects of something so amazing. I need to write a poem but it could take a while. But I needed to say something now, inadequate as it may be.
We were nearly 2 million, they say. And things are already getting better.
There is a story, which I am sure I am getting wrong, about a teacher who asks "How far is it from East to West?" And the students come up with an assortment of scientific and very specific answers, all characterized by very large numbers. Finally, she stops them and says no. It is but one step. All you need to do is turn around and take one step in the other direction.
And on that day, this nation turned around and took the first step in the right direction. And yesterday, and then again today, a few more, very important steps were taken that said yes. This really is the way we are going now. Just as was promised.