Those of us who gre up in the United States all know the first verse of "America, the Beautiful", which tells of the physical beauties of this land from amber waves of grain to purple mountain majesties. But the powerful words of some of the other verses speak of spiritual qualities that Americans traditionally valued.
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
As we remember the trauma of 9/11, let us also remember that it is nobleness and brotherhood that make this country great. When we love mercy more than life, we show ourselves to be different from those who turn airplanes into bombs or strap explosives to their bodies. Brotherhood looks beyond differences in faith, culture and even (dare I say it?) political views to work together for that vision of cities undimmed by human tears--cities filled with the joy of community and the best of human artistic expression instead of abuse and degradation.
Oh, God, refine us like gold. Purify us until we define success by your standards and not by a rising Dow. Shed your grace upon us, for it is only by your mercy that we can overcome the problems we confront now and in the coming decade both at home and abroad.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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