Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lots of work to be done

Come back from a good workshop at 475 about building interfaith partnerships. The whole afternoon was about evaluation and funding. One thing is clear...what we are trying to do in creating an interfaith center of discourse, dialogue and engagement is exactly where things are heading. Foundations are even trying to define spiritual capital in metrics like social capital. My center board does not have  to be nervous about spiritual any more. 
Mim has come to get the story on our meeting with the presbytery officials. And to set an agenda for the next center meeting. We need to start with Labor Day and do a calendar with benchmarks along the way. Steve is setting up for the dance festival as we talk.

Marissa from Movement Experience is coming in to work out details with Danielle. Their opening went well. Sorry to miss it. 
Steve is working as building manager in Teddy’s absence. He and Danielle going over details. 
Teddy finally arrives with lots of good stories firm the road. Chris and Runi safely delivered to Portland.  I-95 conquered. And Teddy safely home.
Marsha arrives. We need to review the meeting with presbytery. The division of work between center and church. We decide to head for the B. Lots of work to be done. 

All the best in Maine


Chris, Bob, Runi, Danielle
ready for Maine

The day starts early with phone calls with final details. Somehow Teddy has sweet talked Enterprise into some exceptional service. He’s headed down to the storage rental place to pick up Chris and Runi, then will come back by church.  
Runi and the sun hat
I go down to meet them. Steve, Danielle and  Christopher and I all go out to say goodbye. Runi is wearing the new summer sun hat that Jamie gave her last night after the showers. Hugs are exchanged. Words are said. Never quite sure what to say at these moments. People live with you for six months, you see them go through changes, grow...Alright, I love them and will miss them. All the best in Maine.
Marc is anxious for us to see his pictures from yesterday’s Memorial Day event at Soldiers  and Sailors memorial that he was sound man for. Good gig for him.
With Teddy off to Maine, Steve will be covering for him for the dance festival. 
RL wants to talk about Teddy. Would like to use him on some projects. I give him a good recommendation.
Late in the day, a man representing a new criminal justice advocacy group comes in to ask about holding meetings, discussions. Abut the book The New Jim Crow which describes how in the post-Civil Rights era the criminal justice system has been used to erect a new wall of apartheid separating black men from society. 
Duck out for a quick coffee and conversation with Jane. get back with just enough time to look in in Danielle before leaving to teach my last class of the year. The dance festival opening reception is getting ready to start. Wish I could be there.
Walking up the street on my way home after class, I stop at the church. David and Donna are there. And (white) George. The two guys with the cardboard box in the middle concern me. Teddy and Steve have concerns. The steps have been really messy in the morning. I tell them that I’m the minister and that the steps must  be clean in the morning. All the cardboard gone. Or I will have to close the steps. (And I will.) They tell me they understand.

Heading home. And wondering where Teddy is on the road. 

Chris and Runi
All the best in Maine

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day, Pentecost, breathe...


It has to be an important meeting to be scheduled for 8:30 am for the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend. I’ve made some last minute copies, go to Barney Greengrass to get bagels and  told  young white George he’s got to get up and leave the steps. Hope soon arrives with the coffee. I’ve got my packets ready to hand out.

Our guests, representing two Presbytery committees, are arriving. We are presenting our plan for the future. Plan A, in which we make one last effort at the overall interfaith Center at West-Park vision. Then contingency plans, ready to be put into motion should any part of A fail. we’ve put a lot if hours into this presentation.

All the hard work paid off. The guests could see that we had taken our challenges seriously. Had done hard thinking and had brought in people with needed expertise.  At a certain point in the meeting, the energy moved towards what can we do together to make this work. 
We leave with a timeline and deliverables agreed to.  A successful meeting. Again, hard work, preparation. Moving from a defensive position to taking the lead. All good. 

This Memorial Day weekend feels strangely quiet. Almost like August in Manhattan when nobody’s here.

Teddy, who’s gone to work, has warned me that the steps are pretty messy. But I have to start inside. There’s a lot to be done. Rachelle has come in to claim her SUV cart. Asks if I need help. So she helps set out the candles, take away the dead flowers. 
I’m outside sweeping. Anna sees me. Tells me I need to get inside and work on my sermon. Make sure she gets her 50 cents worth. As she’s picking up a broom, Chris comes out to help as well. We’re getting  it together.
Lots of people are out of town. I’ve planned the service to fit who’s ever there. My regulars are there. Don back from China. Glen. And all of our hearts are gladdened to see Deacon James back after many weeks of fighting chemo.
As we’re beginning, I talk about Pentecost in the Jewish tradition. Shavuot. First harvest festival. I remember how Andrea told me that on kibbutz, there’d be  a parade of tractors and new born animals.  And I look at Glen’s dog. The tradition of Moses giving the law on Sinai. Fire on the mountain. And smoke. And the tradition of all night study. The great night our neighbors at Manhattan Jewish Experience had planned with a different study every hour and breakfast on the roof at 4:45 m. Greeting the dawn like Moses coming  down from the mountain. 
Deacon James reminds us that t’s memorial Day weekend. We need to remember the veterans. And also those who are serving now. I remember how my father always used this day  to remember his father. And now I remember my own. And I tell James that my subtle nod of honor  is the the blue candles on ether side of the white Christ candle on a red cloth covering the table.  
We start by singing Spirit of the Living God in English and Spanish. Prepare for prayers with Veni Sancti Spiritu. John reads the story of Pentecost. Hope Romans 8:m 22-27 and then Hugo the gospel in Spanish, John 15: 26-27, 16: 4b-15. And I in English. 
I ask everyone to breathe in. Hold it. Then breathe out.....Ask what it feels like. Think of the peace of the first few underwater breast strokes before you have to breathe. Quiet and peaceful. Breath and life. Spirit. Inspire...breathe into. Respiration...breathe back into... Conspiracy...breathing together...Breath and life. 
Any Pentecost memories? Hope has the best . Red balloons, blown up, played with. Talks with children. Her father loved the day.
Then I ask who remembers the Wizard of Oz story? What’s that got to do with Pentecost?
Things were set in motion by a great wind
Dorothy sees things  wonderful and amazing
Oz on the one hand a phony, but on the other knew she had it within her all that she needed  to go home...that each of the characters already possessed what they wanted the most and just didn’t realize it...
And when she  returns to Kansas, everything is the same,  except her....
Pentecost. What do we see? 
  1. They were all together. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit takes place in community
  2. There was a tongue of fire on each No exceptions. Each person receives no more, no less than the other
  3. And that somehow the spirit overcomes all barriers of communication
I remember OWS, Zucotti in the early days...Mic check.....the rolling waves of words moving back through the crowd...a miracle of hearing, not of speaking...everyone feeling they’re singing my song, they’re speaking my language...
In Joel’s prophecy, we see a cosmos under threat...and we must ask ourselves, in the face of amazing creation, 
Do we allow ourselves to wonder?
What to we do to become more aware?
How do we celebrate?
As it says in Romans, we’re in a time of groaning, in society, and especially in the church...The words of course are familiar, I say them every Sunday as we begin our prayers. How the spirit prays with us in sighs too deep for words. I recall the woman Puerto Rican pastor years ago who led our church in a multicultural retreat. How she said she had finally reached the point where she dreamed in English. But I will always moan in Spanish, she said.
What does it meant experience the spirit? It’s about , as Sharon Welch says, the ethic of control vs. ethic of risk . Our US culture is a culture of control, even when motivated by good intentions...what is required of us to truly be open to the spirit is to have:
  1. Genuine interest in other cultures, religious differences, not simply euro dominant assimilative acquisition
  2. Genuine nonvolatile which differences are taken seriously and honored and....
  3. Genuine perseverance past difference
Easter was all about learning resurrection living. The narrative of the risen Jesus walking in our midst. But now, in the season of Pentecost, we need Jesus to be gone so that we can get on with it....we are in a continuous process of becoming, both as  church and us
In a very real sense, we have come full circle. We begin with a breath that brings  clay to life. Then the holy written word which sustained people and broadened understanding of God, as God’s living word. Then, as Christians, we believe that  word became FLESH and dwelt among us. And now WORD and BREATH together, back to  spirit again.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Let yourself feel it inside of you. Let us take the risk if letting the spirit to live within us. 
And we all sing, every time I feel the spirit....An intimate Pentecost. But the spirit was there.
As we stand in the circle, Glen has acquired another quilt,and again tracked down its story. We spread it out, And he tells the story of the two plays he is producing.  And talks about his vision of a growing community as the plays are developed. we hold the quilts together. We fold the quilt and put it away in the office, to await rehearsal. 

Hope, Willa, Glen, James and Hugo

The sanctuary folks are beginning to arrive. I give Jane a warm greeting. The choir is warming up. Jeremy back from San Franciso. 
Berik has arrived to take down some paintings in anticipation  of the coming dance  festival. 
People are leaving for Memorial Day picnics. 
It’s very warm outside. And quiet.  Almost like August.

Memorial Day night. Coming back from dinner with Katherine in an Indian neighborhood, I stop at the church. Little Christopher  is outside. Holding Glen’s script tight in his arms. He’s been studying it. No one is answering the bell. I call Teddy. He and Chris and Runi are at Jamie’s showering in preparation for tomorrow’s trip to Maine. Teddy comes back to let Christopher in. Rachelle arrives with a cart full of Starbucks leftovers. Teddy has to pick out a wrap or two to keep her happy. Plus a few for the others. She’s already been to the steps. Dave and Donna are back. If I can get them seen a couple of more times by Reachout, they’ll be eligible for services. There’s also white George and two rather sketchy characters.  
Teddy and I walk together down to Jamie’s where we’ll plan the trip. We all come back together. We’ll be getting  up early in the morning.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Time to go home

The Movement Research people are starting to arrive and make their plans for their dance festival which will take over most of our building from Tuesday on next week. 
Teddy takes charge of the St. Agnes boys to put them to good use cleaning. Marc is bringing in equipment from various other places to has been stored, old tape decks, records, sound equipment. As places open up, he’s got more ideas to explore. 
Finally get to talk to Steve awhile about his experiences in Chicago. The organizing was a success. People from all over the country. Protesting NATO, among other issues. The mainstream press, deliberately as usual, constructed a narrative much different than reality.  And  he needs some time to reflect on all this. Figure out where it’s headed. A vacation may be in store. 
Don drops by on his way back to the office. I share the story about Glen with him. How it all circles back to him. And he smiles a big smile. 
Leonel drops by to review her show from last week. We talk about the need for better publicity. I notice RL passing through. An older guy who’s been here many times before hits me up for $10. 
Out on the steps a stocky young white guy with eye tattoos is setting up. Based on  my conversation with Reachout, I figure its the white George they told me about. I tell him he can’t sleep there during the day. Tells me he’s not asleep. That routine. Not the point,  I say, come back later. 
Richard, who worked with Katherine way back in the day, I mean way back, comes by again. He tirelessly keeps going after the politicians, believing sooner or later the promised help will come. We keep waiting.
Danielle and I are pushing to get ready for the meeting tomorrow morning. Doesn’t feel like a holiday weekend. I make it down to the Copy Shop just before they close at 7 to get our reports typed up. Send Danielle home. I’ve still got more to do. 
Glen wanted me to give Christopher the script for Robert’s play. He holds it close. Rachelle has brought sandwiches for that young man. And has more for the people inside. 
Spend some time with Teddy and Steve out on the street. Talking about the cop giving Marc a ticket while he was unloading. We talk more. It’s time to go home.  I’ve got more to do. My lap top’s out of juice. It’s time to go home.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The way it's supposed to work


Kimberly from Union Sminary has come in  to go over paper work for her fall internship. She's gotten involved already...
The Center Board gathers for another strategy session  leading up to Saturday morning’s meeting with Presbytery offcials. We are coming to a sense of concnsus on what our plan needs to be. We will stand by our original vision will continue to be what we want to do. Very hard to pull off, but still possible.  And we have fall back positions. 
The Session gathers and reviews the work by the Center Board and comes down in the same place. We’re clear.  What the church wants more than anything is to be out from under the burden of the building so that we can be free to build the church.
I take Hope and Marsha outside to see where Teddy and his steamfitter friend Kirin have fixed our hazardous sidewalk grate with welding guns. (I like the smell of welding in the morning, he says, reminds me of money.)
As the Session members are leaving, Teddy says to me excitedly, Bob, you have to come see what’s going on here.  It’s a full house of activity. Glen has finished auditions and has one play rehearsing in the sanctuary. A second play is being rehearsed in Mc Alpin Hall. And the Dark Lady Players rehearsing..and the 4th floor gym.
I go up to the top floor, checking everything out. The lights have finally been replaced in  the gym. Teddy found the long pole light bulb changer earlier today. 
When I get back downstairs, Glen has called both casts into the sanctuary. One scene from each play will be performed. Teddy points out to me that he has introduced Little Chris to Glen. And Glen has him sitting beside him, taking notes, studying the scripts, asking his opinion.  As close to heaven as Little Chris needs to be.
After the scenes are done with warm applause from the other actors, Glen tells the story of the blanket, a quilt made by an African-American woman from Georgia in the fifties. He found it on EBay, offered by the woman’s niece. Tracked down its story. He is visibly moved. The blanket will play a part in both plays. 
He has each actor stand and tell their story. Reminiscent of A Chorus Line. When one woman falters, he stands beside her, shares a story from his own life, and she smiles and continues. I look around, one play has an almost entirely African-American cast. The other is more mixed. There’s young and old, Latino, white, black, and as one young man says, half Puerto Rican, half everything else. One cast includes Jennifer, who Glen met in church last Sunday. The last person to speak is Little Chris, who talks about his film school and fashion school experience. And how this church has so openly accepted and embraced him. Glen and his directors Chris and Robert are feeling good. 
Glen and I talk afterwards. It is so clear to me that he so completely gets what we are trying to do here. And that he is someone who has fully integrated his faith into his daily work. What he is creating here is why wecan’t let go of the vision.
So this is how it works: Don comes in, looking  for a church. Happy to know  that Mim, who he knew back in Harrisburg, is involved with the Center. Has the idea of doing his backer’s audition here. Glen comes to the backer’s audition, decides to check us out as a church. Comes to church and discovers Don who has been coming here as a congregant. And Glen’s partner works with Don. Decides to do his own shows here. Meets Jennifer at services, invites her to audition, now she’s in  the cast....That’s the synergy we’re looking for....
Glen shares some more of his story with me. When I came in and saw that flag, (the rainbow one), I knew I was home....

Chris (director), Glen and Robert (director)
and the quilt

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Apparently there was a stabbing at the shelter

I meet Tracy and Wendy at Holy Name where we’re meeting with Father Mike to see if we can use the cafeteria of the school for a celebration of the victory of the workers at V&T pizza. It’s a major step in our sweatshop free neighborhood campaign,an opportunity to get everyone together...maybe even the bosses ...It’s even brought the neighboring institution Hungarian Pastry Shop on board as well. Father Mike, one of the founders of Westsiders for Peace and Justice, seems ope and it looks like we’ve got a place for the event. I walk down Amsterdam a  ways with them then head home before going to the church.
We’ve got a major dance festival coming up next week which will fill up most of the building. Need to solve the Occupiers issues by then. We’ve got another visit by the Fire Department with Teddy serving as host and talking about his uncle, a former firefighter. Other than refilling the fire extinguishers, we’re okay.
I’ll use the free time to grab a quick visit to Jack. Former jazz player, playwright and actor, college dean, poet, life mentor. The bus back up Amsterdam to meet Jane. 
There’s a young couple from Williamsburg waiting to talk about getting married. Melisa has a rehearsal in the chapel so since the people from A Course on Miracles chant, they’ve been moved to the sanctuary. With so much activity, I take the couple across the street for a cup of coffee.  Turns out they’re theatre people and an interfaith couple. Laid back, down to earth not billburg hip, just young. Want to get married under the bridge.
Jane and I are meeting with Runi to make clear that she and Chris need to be headed back to Portland by Tuesday. No choice. Teddy can take a day to drive them. Jane and I will help hook it up for them. I know they’d rather not go at all, and that’s hard on me. 
Jamie drops by and as we head up the street to the B, I notice David and Donna on the steps. Along with a Mexican guy and the white guy in the box. Apparently there was a stabbing at the shelter and they’ve come back. Yes, this is hard. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

They all come with a dream

Teddy is staffing the door as Glen is running auditions for a new play. The sanctuary will be a holding area for aspiring actors all day long. Even with prescreening, there will be enough experienced actors, college, community theatre, regional and off-off Broadway to have a steady stream. Like the undocumented workers Tracy organizes, like Sekou and me, they all come with a dream.
Tom comes from the Belnord across the street and we catch up focusing on the need to get the neighbors organized once and for all to take responsibility for the building to free the church it be the church.
Mid afternoon, the first bus arrives back form Chicago. Steve emerges, weary but satisfied. Maybe ten New York occupiers were arrested and released. Over 20,000 gathered from around the country in mainly peaceful protest to confront NATO. The mainstream press of course, reported only the accused terrorists and the black block confrontation with the Chicago PD. Despite Rahm Emmanuel’s boast that Chicago had redeemed its reputation from 1968, Steve has eyewitness reports of free swinging billy clubs and free flowing blood. Steve, a major organizer,  had been interviewed by the Huffington Post. (
We welcome back Stan and Jason from the bus as well. Buses continue to return throughout the afternoon.
An important meeting with our Muslim friends. The share our vision  for an interfaith, multicultural center for encounter and discourse. Wonderful visions of food, of sharing, of performance, of exploration. The window is fast closing. Now is the time to act. 

You have just answered your own question

Leila has come by just to see what’s going on. Marsha has come by to get information needed to complete an application. Sekou has come in early and wants to see me.  I’m still stressed out about my phone and have another appointment I have to run to. Teddy wants to brig me up to date on what’s going on with what and whom.
 I get back in  time for Bible study. The regular crowd. Plus Don has returned from China. Pedro from West End, along time activist has shown up for the first time. 
Before we get started, Anna wants to know if there are scientific explanations for Jesus’ healings. I tell her that when I was growing up in the sixties, that was a major area of exploration. But that its basically irrelevant because what we really want to know is what was the author  trying to tell us about  God, not did it really happen or how did it happen. 
Sekou’s homework was to bring in a news story. Hope has brought one from the arrests in Chicago. Charges of terrorism. We remember the murder of Fred Hampton and the Panthers in December 1969. (You can kill the revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution.) Our young Occupiers need to know these stories. 
Tonight we’re looking at two stories, Jesus healing a leper and the healing of a paralytic. (Mark 1:40-2:12). We discover that with the leper, there is the issue of ritual purity, a confrontation round who cab declare someone clean. Jesus confronting the religious establishment on behalf of inclusion. And the in the case of the paralyzed man, issues of poverty are clearly present. His language has to do with debt forgiveness. (The implication being that his debts were paralyzing) A direct confrontation again with those who collect the debts. The charge of blasphemy is raised for the first time. The charge that would be raised by the hierarchy at the end. 
Marsha wants to know what it has to do with her. How to changes her life.  We come around to the call to free others from their paralyzing situations and ourselves from what paralyzes us. And it becomes clear that Mark was subverting the association of physical infirmity with spiritual sickness. 
We’re standing on the street after. Teddy wants to know how you keep responding when you no longer feel like it. I talk about the woman who showed up right before Hugo and Arcadia’s wedding. And my sense that Jesus never anticipates what’s going to face him next. That when the one with leprosy appears, his first reaction is oh, man....
As we’re talking, Bobby opens the door, asking for food. Teddy gently but firmly explains  that he is in a conversation but will shortly come in and help him find some sandwiches. Sekou and Hope look over to him and say, You have just answered your own question....
When Teddy goes inside with Bobby, Sekou reflects on all that is going on in his own life. This Bible study, man, it reminds me of who I’m supposed to be. And I think, Me too, my brother, me too. 

Monday, May 21, 2012


The sanctuary still has the afterglow of yesterday’s wedding. 
I’ve got to get over my sense of disorientation from the loss of a cellphone and numerous other mixed emotions. As usual, Teddy and Chris have everything ready.
At the beginning of the service, I read the story if the Ascension from Acts 1. Then pull out the guitar and sing, I’ll fly away:

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).
I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).
When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)
Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

As a response with Psalm 1, I have us sing the refrain:
 We shall not, we shall not be moved, we shall  not, we shall not be moved
just like a tree, planted by the water, we shall not be moved.
No, no, no nos moveran; no, no, no no moveran
Como un arbol firme junto al rio, no nos moveran.
and explain it is both a spiritual and an old union song. Make any verse you want...Black and white together, the union is united...
And then after we read the scriptures, Acts 1: 15-7, 21-26 and John 17:12-19. I begin the reflection. 
This is the Sunday following the Feast of the Ascension...One of those gateway days like Christ the King, and Transfiguration, leading us from one liturgical season to the next..I remember when I was in Germany on this day. Himmelfahrt, they called it, IE, heaven bound, heaven journey...It’s still a .public holiday...I’m not sure what that means in an essentially secular society like Germany today. it always comes 40 days after Easter.
We’ve been talking about resurrection living...What does it mean to be resurrected? Are  we ready to claim new life? As individuals, as a church? In the context of the risen Christ present in our midst.
So now we make a do we live when the visible presence gone? The ascension leaves the disciples in an in between space....
Part of what they have to do is replace Judas...and this Judas  story is different than the other Judas story, the one where he hangs himself. Here he takes his coins, buys a field, and falls headlong into it, bursting open and his bowels pouring out. (No wonder the lectionary skips those verses.)
Pretty soon we’re into all kinds of sketchy stuff....Like all this  happened to fulfill the scriptures...what? Psalm 41:10 says:
Even my trusted friend,
who ate my bread,
has raised his heel against me.
Most of us know what that feels like, and I’m sure David did too. But I can almost  guarantee that David had no thought in his head about Judas when he wrote that Psalm....
And the whole fulfill business gets too crazy for me... finding random verses scattered throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as if it were the gospel according to Nostradamus...or Jean Dixon. I’m not sure  where or fit in such a world...
Still there is this fascination with Judas..whether it’s in Kazantszakis’ Last Temptation  where they are boyhood friends (along with Mary Magdalene) or Jesus Christ Super Star, we don’t want to let him go. We want to understand him. In recent years we have discovered the Gospel of Judas. In this gnostic gospel, Jesus needed someone very special to fulfill this role...and only Judas was strong enough and spiritually mature enough to fulfill the role. 
It’s fun to think about, but the real point here  is succession. They needed to be 12 again.... I wonder..what if every time we lost someone, church member,  one way or another, we didn’t rest until they were replaced?  If that became the priority?
( Though I am convinced that God brings the  people we need to us...)
But back to the weird...the casting of lots....I just read where an election in Texas was just settled by a coin toss...I remember when the church where my dad was choir director merged with another church. Who would be the new choir director? Someone suggested casting  lots as a Biblical solution. My dad said no way. (And wound up being named choir director.) Makes me wonder why Presbyterians have always been so opposed to games of chance..
The bottom line is, here it is about two people we’ve never heard of. It’s about ordinary people  called to do extraordinary things...that’s where we come in
I’m also troubled by what I read in John...all this in the world/not in the world...It’s where the Lutherans get their kingdom of heaven/kingdom of earth dichotomy. (Luther said he’d rather be governed by a wise Turk than a dumb Christan.) And Presbyterians their social vision rooted in a world over which God has dominion. When I was a kid, I remember singing, This is my father's world...
What we have here is John’s cosmic Christ..The one who is preexistant, who drops down for awhile then goes back up. For me, here, this world, is enough...the other place we belong to is  the place of liberation...from whatever oppresses us..occupation, slavery, poverty, addiction....mental illness....none of this define us. Our true self is deeper, beyond that....That’s what i think it means...
So what then are we to do? Obama said it the other day, We know what to do, do we have the will? ...Jesus says, you’ve seen how to live, will you?That is the question that goes with us as Jesus leaves us without his physical presence...Will we? That is out own journey to take....
Our final hymn is Guide my feet. As i look around the circle, it;s good to see Don back from China. Jennifer back again. Wondering how Glen’s dog and Anna’s dog will get along. We close with our Caribbean Halle, halle, hallelujah...
Making a sale
Chris and Runi
We have not had time to plan for this year’s Amsterdam Avenue Street Festival, but Teddy and Chris and Runi quickly organize a clothing/book sale. And mainly enjoy just dealing with folks on the street. 
Late in the afternoon, it’s Leonel’s concert. To benefit the church. It begins with Josh the Juggler. The Leonel sings some songs, Hoagy Carmichael & co. And then it’s Joan’s Seven Ages of Woman, a feminine twist on Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. It’s Joan, her daughter Dee Dee and granddaughter Emily and narrator Nydia. It’s clever, well written, classic Broadway style. The audience shares its appreciation with Joan.
The show ends with folksinger Richard Corrie. (That’s right.) Accompanying himself on autoharp. 
They deserved more people. But who they did get was wonderful. Lots of older folks, peace movement veterans. The old Peace Action folk who used to meet here at West-Park. Joan herself a founder of Grandmothers Against the War and  the Granny Peace Brigade. Allow me to say, saints....
And afterwards, I meet women who had been a part of the planning team here for the march against nuclear proliferation in 1982 that drew over a million to NYC. One of them is pressing me to do something about human trafficking. Tell him who we are, her friend says. Turns out they’re sisters of the Sacred Heart, those senior citizen nuns so devoted to the poor they’ve drawn the ire of the pope. These women who stood with Dan Berrigan in exile are not about to be cowed by a straight laced German pope and a hierarchy that it's out of touch  with the streets.

It’s been an honor to have them here. To hear their experience of West-Park. And our opportunity to carry that legacy on.