Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thirty-second day of Lent: Nothing Biblical

Norm, Hope and I meet to to go further with the archives. Hope’s unopened bag and the bag I picked up at Jim’s office on the way here are like bags of unopened Christmas presents. With no other place to work, we gather around the communion table, put what we’ve got down to look at.
It’s a impressive array of stuff, that’s for sure. Old hand written deeds. personal letters. Tintypes, kodak polaroids, examples from the whole history of photography. Lists, records, marriages, baptisms. Blueprints, planned renovations that never took place. A letter of dismissal. The Peacemonger Press. Christmas cards. Unsorted, random. History in our hands. This is being destroyed just by our touching it, says Norm as we go through papers from the 19th Century. 
Norm has a sense of what we have. he needs some color things. Some things  that attract attention. Tell a story. We’ll have to look for those. 
When Hope and I go outside, Marty is there. On the steps. Writing in an notebook.                                           “Hey Marty, what are you up to?” “Nothing Biblical, I assure you. My shopping lists, et cetera.” 
Hope says, “You moved,” gesturing across the street. 
“Too hot over there,” he says, "Monday it was near 80, today, ah, 65? I’m looking to live on the median...” 
We close up. That’s all for now. Later I meet Mim with a friend  from Bank Street, the teacher’s college. We give her a tour. She talks about an exciting film program involving kids and their own neighborhoods and video. Like Paolo Freire’s work with cameras. Where people become the subject of their own history. Take back control of their own lives. Our guest smiles when I mention Freire. Of course, she says.
On the one hand, it’s an exciting opportunity. On the other, I am tired of opportunities. I want to see something real. We shake hands. Agree to talk further. 
We go back outside. In the sun. Marc Greenburg of the Interfaith Assembly is there on 86th.  Knocking at the door. Pushing the buzzer. We go for coffee and popovers. History. The Assembly was started by three giants, Father Daniel Berrigan, Rabbi Marshall Meyer and the Rev. Bob Davidson, my predecessor. Formed to respond to the 200 day homeless sleep-in vigil in City Hall Park. Marc has been the only Director. And I am now the President. Part of our legacy. And present. Each year there’s  a  convocation, march, sleepover and morning meeting with elected officials around the budget and the homeless. A liturgy of remembrance and presence.  Turning the Park and the street into what Bill Tripp would call Ritual Space. We finish our conversation.
Time to go work on the budget. 

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