The Dress: A Thought


These past couple of days I’ve been having a private exchange with a friend — a Catholic convert and editor, like myself — who has shall we say a pointedly different perspective on the election.  Although I took exception to some of her comments, and in the end chose not to post them here (note my nifty new “comments” box in the sidebar), I decided to interpret her comments though the lens of friendship … and take what I could from them.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: the dress. When I first saw what Mrs. Obama chose to wear on election night, I found it ironic that the spouse of this particular president-elect chose to dress in black, with a swath of blood-red across her abdomen. It was just too brutal an image, given the whole FOCA thing  — and had her “fashion statement” been intentional, it would have been offensive in the extreme.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the real “message of the dress” was something altogether different: This woman, like her husband, was trying to cope with a disparity that would floor most people. In a span of a few hours, the Obama family became the next occupants of the White House … and lost a close family member, the senator’s grandmother. They were public figures … with a very private pain.

At that moment, I saw the dress in a whole new light. It reminded me that, in the months and years ahead, when the temptation arises to villify or de-humanize, that we must choose instead to pull together, even to love. To respect the person and office even when we cannot condone the deed in question. To hope.

And so, today I’d like to offer a prayer for the Obama family, especially for the soul of Madelyn Dunham.  In their joy, and in their grief, may they experience peace.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord, and may your perpetual light shine upon her.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.