I got this email from frequent tricycle.com contributor Martha Henry that I thought I’d share:

Voting & Hoping

I voted early this morning at the Martin Luther King Elementary School in my neighborhood. There was a hand-printed sign on the door that said, “Bake Sale Today.” Inside, the sale was going on in the front lobby—cupcakes and Rice Krispies squares. Voting was in the hall to my right. The old woman with the cigarette voice asked, “Where do you live?” I gave her my address. She checked my name on the precinct list and handed me a ballot. I took it into one of the curtained booths, voted quickly with the special pen, then fed my vote to the machine by the exit. I was so giddy I wanted to high-five the guy guarding the machine, but restrained myself.

It’s an unseasonably warm day in Cambridge. Though the air has the moist feeling of spring, the orange and yellow leaves left on the trees are a reminder that winter will soon arrive. I voted for Obama. For the past week I’ve been signing my emails, “Vote & Hope.” I’m hoping that the election goes smoothly and decisively and that my candidate wins. McCain supporters, I’m sure, share exactly the same sentiments. A few weeks ago I saw a church sign that said, “Voting is a Civil Sacrament.” That’s what it felt like this morning—taking part in a ritual full of meaning and, collectively, of consequence.

“It’s morning again in America,” were the words from a Reagan campaign ad in 1984. Though it’s a beautiful autumn morning, I don’t feel a sense of optimistic beginning. It feels, rather, like mid-afternoon and the hangover from the long binge is just beginning to abate. There’s the possibility of improvement, of different choices in the future, and different values governing those choices.

On the bus ride to work I put my iPod on shuffle. Mahalia Jackson’s “I Will Move on Up a Little Higher” started playing as the bus crossed the river. It made me miss Studs Terkel, an early fan of Mahalia. I wish he could have lived a couple of days longer to hopefully see Obama win the election. I wish Obama’s grandmother could have hung on a few days longer as well.

What does this have to do with Buddhism? Nothing, and almost everything. Though candidates on both sides may advocate change, change doesn’t need an advocate. It’s as sure to come as the coming winter. There’s a lot of hope and excitement in America today. I voted, yes. It was easy, even fun. May it be my first, rather than my only, action.

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