Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Early Easter

Rachel and Amy

Easter. Early. I walk up 85th into Central Park. To the site  of Seneca Village. Where 300 homes, schools, three churches, stood until the city plowed them under to build Central Park. The first place where African-Americans owned property and therefore could vote. people with homes and families. Squatters and ne’er do wells said the newspapers of the time. Their village buried for almost 150 years. 
And here, in front of me, the foundation stones of the All Angels’ church emerging from the ground. Visible again. We come here every year to celebrate our early Easter service. Because the people who were here before were a multicultural faith community of African-American, Irish and German immigrants. Because you can’t keep history buried forever. The stones are rising again from the ground. And because sometimes the very stones cry out. 
Seneca Village, All Angel's Church: The very stones cry out

I wonder who will come today. When 8:30 passes and I’m still alone on the bench, I have an idea.  I pull out my Blackberry and begin to tweet my service to my Twitter followers. Then I look up and see Rachel making her way towards me. 
She comes and joins me on the bench. It’s a truly beautiful day. We talk about years past. She talks about Hannah. Worried that her phone is disconnected. Wonders about Jim W. I call him, his box is full. We remember Kate. The year we opened up a fence and walked into the church space and were chastened by the Park rangers. The years rangers and random runners joined us for communion. The first year we did this, Katherine said, and what will we use for a table? and I said, the people will be the table. 
I begin to read the Matthew gospel text aloud to Rachel. I see another woman walk up to the church foundation, look around. She seems familiar. Then she comes to our bench, asks if she can join us and I say sure then I realize that it is Amy S, whose marriage I performed here, over ten years ago in the the Shakespeare Gardens. 
We remember that ceremony. She remembers another year, walking over  this way, seeing Katherine in her white hamsa print stole and me in my Latin American woven stole. She watched us from a distance. This year she came intentionally looking for us. 
I finish the gospel reading and invite them to join me inside the church. We use Rachel’s walker as our communion table.Remember in prayer all who have been with us before. Invoke their presence with us. I say the words, we share the bread and cup. 
I feel good. Amy heads home. Rachel and I walk out of the Park together. Easter has begun. 
Alleluia. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. 
Rachel and Amy

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