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Greetings Prophet - The Great Work Begins

by Mark Peres

December 2,2003

The Angel appears to Prior Walter in “Angels in America” and says: “Greetings, Prophet; The Great Work begins.”

This is the great commission of America, from the Puritans’ promised land, to the Revolution’s experiment in democracy, to Gettyburg’s new birth of freedom, to the manifest destiny of the westward expanse, to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream in Washington, to Ronald Reagan’s morning in Ameica – all of it tinged in violence and upheaval, all of it bursting in freedom and obligation, all of it flowing as mighty streams in the river of this nation. Our national calling is the great work of creating a more perfect union.

There are angels in America. We live in a unique land – the hope and bane of the world – driving history crazy with idealism, certitude, restlessness and relentlessness. All the forces that amount to a hill of beans are at play. Creative destruction cycles through – raising glittering cities, wiping out jobs and economies, enfranchising the marginal to citizenry, fighting wars at home and exporting the tumult of our great commission abroad.

There are angels in Charlotte. Indeed, in our New South city, in a city the Chamber yearns to call, among all the ideals to strive for, the most pro-business in the country, a renaissance is underway. The renewal, however, is larger than commerce. It is larger than the exchange of money. The energy of this town is that everyday, anew, the great work begins. We sense the possibility of art and science, of education and worship, of transit and entertainment, of the thriving, mixed-up, pin-ball of street-level democracy that could be Charlotte—with our trees, blue skies and gardens very much intact.

It is this energy and very real sense of possibility that heightens our responsibility to make bold decisions that advance our national calling.

Life is choice and change. We make our choices, struggling with careers, finding our way to our true voice, one that is the better angels of our nature, yearning to leave a legacy. In our personal lives, as in our civic ones, there are choices that resonate, tuned to the human divine relationship that is the American experiment.

Many of us were not here when “Angels in America” stirred Charlotte, but we are now. Along with those who have long resided here, and along with those who are sure to follow, we are all prophets in our words and deeds, engaged in the great work of creation.

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