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Friday, December 2, 2011

You need us


12/2
The anxious knot in my stomach just won’t go away. Danielle, Sarah and I are filling the office with high energy activity. The piano movers have just moved the pop-up piano from the sanctuary into the chapel. (Later I will  learn they didn’t move it up to the stage.) Dan from #ows walks in ready for duty. Mad welding is going on in the basement in a dash to get the boiler finished. 

The Occupy Wall Street work crew

I’m making every phone call I can to get people to the gala. Sarah and I go to the chapel to direct the #ows work crew. They’re moving our old heavy metal gates in as decorative pieces. They offer to move the piano. Well, maybe not. I leave to go talk to RL’s bar owner. 
Strtangely, around six o’clock, for no rational reason, I begin to let go, to realx, to feel, it will be ok. Part of it is this: tomorrow, a progressive neighbor church will host a half day symposium on understanding Occupy Wall Street. We won’t be there. We’ve got work to do. Make no mistake, this symposium is a good thing. There will be a top notch social theologian from Union. A Bible study. An Occupy spokesperson. Small groups to figure our what to do.  But here’s the point, we don’t need to figure it out,  we’ve been living it. One of two churches here to actually house people. The only one to actually engage them in work day by day. 
For us, Occupy is not an icon, a romance, soemthing to analyze. It’s people with names. And gifts. And problems. Serious problems. That we live with daily. It is real. As real as the shit I sometines have to clean off the steps. As real as hammers and nails and arguments and smiles. We go there. And all of a sudden I realize, you need us. Exactly for that reason. Because we go there. And that’s where our theologcal reflection will come from. 
Sandy and I talk about the edginess of some  of her crew. Outside of her usual architetural experience. Sometimes enough to make her want to quit. But she doesn’t.  Later I'll have a similar conversation with Suzie the socail worker about the maddening tension between well disciplined organization and chaos. Mutiple people claiming the same role. 
The boiler guys say heat by Monday. We’re almost there. 

The new boiler
I see Rudolfo on the street. The clinic had taken him to St.Luke's hospital where he spent the night.  He seems to have a place for this night so I leave it alone. 
Tonight is Laura’s perfomance. (I hear her ticket seller at the downstairs table say to someone on her cell phone, You know, the creepy church....)There’s an exhibit by Jack Salazar in my former office. Of roadside memorials. Places we notice, speed by, don't engage.  Photos he took within ten miles on  Jersey highways. Moving, eccentric, memorials within feet of where someone who was loved died.
In Mc Alpin, video monitors are playing back conversations among cast members as to their experience getting to perfomance. One dialogue is about their visit to Occupy. Zucotti Park as ritual space. And I remember one yeat ago, almost exactly, reentering our cold building. Matt Weber’s photography.  Amanda’s song. And Bill Tripp’s exploration of Ritual Space. (http://west-parkpress.blogspot.com/2010/12/hour-of-ritual-space.html  ) How, in his own quiet way, he exploded the concept out of the sanctuary into the  public space. The very discussion that Laura is pursuing through her work.
I look around. Dan from Occupy has come to see the perfomanxe. As well as Susie, the #ows social worker who’s been working with us. The videos stop. The performance begins. Let’s just say it explores those issues in a highly articulate way with no didacticism . All inferential. Built out of our daily lives.  Random, semi-improvised with great intention as to detail, For example, the books on the floor: Le Petit Prince, Midsummer Night's Dream, More than One Lifetime  and the Story of O. But the power of ritual very present. The audience stands around McAlpin with their miniflashlights. As a Woodshed veteran, I move aroud ,move in and out of what’s happening. 
At the end, Sarah and I are very moved. It is exactly (again) what we want to have happening here. Laura came for our Forgiveness series, saw the space, moved in and became part of it for awhile with church people and Occupiers and homeless people and service wokers. We are already doing what we wanted to be.  The only question is, will we survive.? You need us. 

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