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Hallelujah, we're in love again: An ode to Obama

WILBERT A.TATUM | 4/12/2011, 4:40 p.m.

The day did not begin in its usual humdrum way. The night before had been filled with expectations. The night before had been filled with promise, as all the other days prior to Sen. Barack Obama's inauguration had been.

You must understand that this day was not supposed to happen, not in our lifetimes. If indeed it happened--and I am not yet convinced that it did--it was a miracle ordained to happen such as might be found in the book of Isaiah, the prophet, or in revelations by Nostradamus. Such events can be found there, but not nearly so clear and vivid as a Black-skinned man and a white-skinned woman coming together through love, rather than the obligation of slavery had been. I promised myself that I would believe all this, but not until it happened because it was not supposed to happen now.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet. He never came so close after telling us what he had seen when he said, "I've seen the promised land." I saw it too, but I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now. Is it possible that the promised land could be my country during the years of my life? Perhaps, but it is so hard to believe. First off, what did I do to deserve it? Nothing, I keep repeating, nothing. My mother, Mittie Spell Tatum, delivered 13 children but two died, one in childbirth and one of epilepsy prior to his three score ten. Occasionally, I would see tears in my mother's eyes, but I never saw her cry, except upon the illness of a child or not having enough money to buy food in the winter after the stores left over from the fall harvest had been consumed. We knew little of doctors, though, on very special occasions we had to go to see one. But Mama had taken good care of us with three sixes, turpentine, cod liver oil, coal tar, turnips, rutabagas and other foods of convenience and medical uncertainty I recall having. Even now.

But we must get back to this miracle that I refuse to believe but cannot help but believe, because it happened, and I was there. God had given us some checks before without ever explaining that they were on account that this man, Barack Hussein Obama, was the real deal and his check was a check that we could cash and we did. Still not believing my own eyes or the prayers answered by my mother, it still could be true in this land made famous by Hollywood, television and Broadway. It could not be true. It could not be true, but it is. But it is.

Do we thank God for miracles or do we thank a father who would pray on his knees for hours who never got what he wanted or needed from prayer unless he was praying for children. Of those he got plenty. Barring that, I must believe what I saw, what I smelled, what I touched. I saw Barack Obama and I touched him. He felt plenty real to me. And the correlation, if you would call it that, is over and he has set about on his mission to change America. In spite of everything that Emily tells me, she's a believer, you see. I still have my doubts about what happened this past glorious day. I'd know that if my mother came down to visit me. She did not visit the other children, just me and told me to tell them hello. I won't do that because they will not believe me. I'll just tell them that I love them more. That from somewhere came extra, an extra dividend, an extra check, an extra song, an extra poem or memories of a love affair long forgotten. They would understand.

While I am yet to be convinced of what happened on this glorious day, you cannot make me believe it. It will require an act of God. I accepted it, I want it, I need it and I don't believe it. Yet I will find myself at some later point not far from here remembering these lines: "I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear falling on my ear is the Son of God is calling. And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known." That point just entered into my stream of consciousness and I find that I am a believer after all.

I want to believe, I need to believe. Not particularly in God but in man. In other words, we must believe in ourselves as the sons and the daughters of God. Hallelujah, you all. Hallelujah, my friends. Hallelujah, those who believe and care. Obama did make it after all.