Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twenty-fourth day of Lent: It feels like we have a plan

A subwoofer cover. An empty St. Ides 40 bottle. And one lean, silent, angry prophet (see 2/18), sitting hunched over, writing furiously with red ink in his notebook.
Tom meets me on the steps. As I expected, he’s wearig shorts already. It’s just starting to rain.  Under the scaffolding. We go first to Barney Greengrass. They’d called me. Thought they smelled gas. Con Ed has come. We go around to the 86th Street door. Hope is there, reading. Waiting for the phone guy. It’s warmer out here, she says. She tells me the Con Ed guy says that everything’s ok.
Tom and I inspect the sidewalk. The cuts the city has made. The rough asphalt put down over regular sidewalk. They’ve got to fix this. Could be dangerous.  May need to remove some of the scaffolding. (Hope wants to know if the scaffolding comes down, isn’t that a public safety hazard from falling stone?) Again, their responsibility. Penny Ryan, District Administrator, contacted Tom as a Community Board member who contacted me as pastor...
It’s raining harder. We go into Barney’s for coffee. Talk through the sidewalk. Then on to the more serious issues. Like boilers. Bathrooms. Hot water. Elevators. Accessibility. Slowly, step by step, a comprehensive program begins to emerge. It has to begin the bathrooms and boiler. And it requires around $3800 to get started. That’s all. And its time for the community to come through. Not about politics. About what’s right. How we can work together here, step by step. This will create its own reality. Time to really draw the old Friends.... in. It feels like  we’ve got a plan. 
By the time we go out, it’s truly pouring. And cold. We each know what we will do next. The prophet is sprawled out asleep. When I walk around  the corner, Hope tells me that the phone guy has arrived! Went out to check some outside things out. Looks like we may actually get out of here in an hour. Danielle may not have to relieve us. 
Soon enough, walking down 86th, the phone guy. Hope introduces him. Pedro. As we walk back inside to my office, it’s very clear, Pedro cares about us, our church, our story. More than a phone guy, he comes across as a good man, a man of faith. Who cares about his work. And sees people on the other side of phone lines. 
The fire alarm line? Back on. The main church line? Back on. Dial 212-362-4890, you actually get the church again. Wi-fi? On its way. Pedro shows us around the phone system. Makes sure that we’re comfortable.
We see him  to the door. Thank him. He wishes us well. Blesses us. We may not have heat. But we have phones. And a plan. Outside, the rain has stopped. The sun is coming out again. The prophet is gone.

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