Recently Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of these United States of America. In fact, he was sworn in twice, because the Chief Justice mixed up the words during the inauguration ceremony. It got me to thinking about promises we all make and oaths we take in our lives. How can we make them more than mere words?
We all make promises, to ourselves and to others. And perhaps the most formal “oath” we take is part of our marriage ceremony. We vow to love, honor, respect, etc. I am sure we all mean the words as we say them on that special day, but do we keep the vows alive over time? Not all promises are able to be kept. Not all vows hold over time. But surely it is good to try and live up to the lofty ideals contained in oaths. They have worthy goals: “Do no harm.” “Until death do us part.” “Defend the Constitution of the United States.”
I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred, but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, as a healer of misery, as a messenger of wonder, as an architect of peace. (Diane Ackerman)
The above quote from Diane Ackerman came to me fromwww.gratefullness.org as part of their email program, Word for the Day. Many of their quotes give me pause, but none more so than this one. I am struck by the power of the words, and the intention of the oath. I do not know why Ms Ackerman created this oath, what ceremony she was participating in if any. But what if – each and every morning – we all had to swear to live our lives a certain way? If we did, then what better oath than the one Ms Ackerman has created?
I have decided to take this oath every day, each morning as I start my day. I offer it to you and to President Obama. It is not as formal or specific as the President’s oath, but it says so very much more to me. It uses words like: guardian, messenger, healer, architect. When I see myself as a guardian, as a messenger, as a healer, or as an architect, I feel powerful, able to make a change for better in the world. More important it uses the word humbly. This word reminds me not to take myself too seriously, even though I may be a guardian, messenger, etc.I am touched by this oath, this attempt to align oneself with nature, wonder and peace, and to move away from hatred. I read Ms Ackerman’s words and I want to live up to them, be worthy of them, have them engraved upon my soul. What better eulogy could I have than to have it said of me: “she hated no one or no thing, she loved and protected the sea, the earth, and all who dwell therein, she healed the sick and the sick-at-heart, she filled herself and those around her with wonder, and she worked tirelessly for peace”?