Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Forgiveness (II)

When I come in, my time is tight, little time to talk with Danielle. But Mark is in the sanctuary hard at work setting up the sound system.  And Danielle’s deeply involved. This isn’t going to work. 
I go out. Come back an hour later. Mark is still there. You have to hear this, he says, and pops Revolver into the cd player. And the sounds of Got to Get You Into My Life fill up the sanctuary. And it’s every bit as filling as Woodshed’s was. He pulls me half way up the center aisle and I hear the stereo division of sound, grinding guitars  and trumpets. Got to get you into my life...And for a moment I’m remembering the day before at the gallery on Wooster Street, filed with John Lennon’s artwork, his music filling the space...Then Mark takes me to see all that he’s stored: six studio quality mikes, more amps and speakers, stands, an eight track mixer, a fourteeen track mixer. We could go into business. (In fact, he suggests that.) 
I test out my I tunes. There’s Danny Kalb playing the blues. And the sweet harmonies of the Grateful Dead singing Attics of my Life..Okay. So we’ve got wifi. A killer sound system. Shabby bathrooms. And a dead boiler.
It’s time for Danielle to get her computer hooked up for our evening’s film showing.
I get there late from doing a devotional at a Presbytery Council meeting over on the East Side. Forgiveness... has already begun.  There’s a good turnout. As in Part 1, there’s a lot of painful ground to cover. A woman who abandoned her husband and two children to go to Portland, Oregon and start a new life. An African general who made human sacrifices before battles.  Genocides in Europe (the Holocaust) and Africa (Rwanda.) Reagan’s blundering Bitberg fiasco. (You cannot forgive something that didn’t happen to you...) The ground breaking Truth and Reconciiation Commission in South Africa. What emerges is the importance of time. And process.
In  the film I see my friend Don Shriver. And Thane Rosenbaum, who once came to see me wirh Rudy. I wonder  what his thoughts  are now. About our building. Or Rudy.
Following the film, Eleanor introduces the award winning  writer, producer and director, documentarian par excelence, Helen Whitney. She asks how she handled being absorbed into this process..And for Helen it had to do  the stories more than anything, how these stories opened up this conplex, elusive and frustrating subject. 
People have questions. Is it possible without religion? or God? they ask.  Absoluteley, she says. My Catholic friend in the film said it best, it’s primordial, it was there before religion. Then the question of evil arrrives.  I’ve never got that hate the sin, not the sinner, she said. It’s not about a program. I’ve come to say that I believe that there is evil, a force of evil we mustc ontend with.  
Her favorite scene is West German chancellor Willy Brandt instincitvely fall to his kneees at Bergen-Belsin.  Lots of qustions. We’ll pick them up next week when we come back together for discussion.  Helen ends by saying  that anger can be as lifesaving for the indiviidual as forgiveness and that likewise it can liberate us, free us, allows us to love again.
When everyone has gone, Danielle, Sarah and I clean up.  We show Sarah what the cound system can do. She laughs,  plays us music from some of her Brooklyn friends. As we talk, I’m moved to see that beyond business, this project has become personal for Sarah. She’s one of us. 
Outside, the cardboard shelters are up again. And Paul seems to have returned. 

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