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Monday, February 27, 2012

First Sunday in Lent: Lonesome Valley 1


2/26
Teddy stops by to tell me that a lot of the occupiers will be down at Tompkins Square park for another Occupy Town Square.  I’ll miss them. He tells me that this church has been a big part of the good changes that have come about in his life. He helps me set the chairs in a circle this morning. We will be smaller in number this morning. 
Virginia has come early to wait for Uli. She’s a long time board member of the internaional board of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She was one of our group to travel to Germany the first time I went. Staying together at the Niemoller House. 


Bob, Uli, Virginia

Teddy stops by to tell me that a lot of the occupiers will be down at Tompkins Square park for another Occupy Town Square.  I’ll miss them. He tells me that this church has been a big part of the good changes that have come about in his life. SHe helps me set the chairs in a circle this morning. It’s going to be smaller.
Virginia has come early to wait for Uli. She’s a long time board member of the international board of the Fellowship of Recomciliation. She was one of our group to travel to Germany the first time I went. Staying together at the Niemoller House. 
Happy that Amy has come. But I’m still going to play guitar and sing this morning. We start our first Sunday in Lent by chanting Create in me  clean heart O God. Katherine always thought it was Taize. But I wrote it. From an old Jewish niggun. (When Bill Schimme played it on his accordion, it almost sounded like Sunrise,sunset...)
After John reads the story of Noah and the ark from Genesis 9, I pull out the guitar and sing The Great Storm is Over...
The thunder and lightning gave voice to the night; 
the little lost child cried aloud in her fright. . 
"Hush, little baby, a story I'll tell, 
of a love that has vanquished the powers of hell. 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
"Sweetness in the air, and justice on the wind, 
laughter in the house where the mourners had been. 
We all shall have music, and see with  new eyes, 
the standards of death taken down by surprise. 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
"Release for the captives, an end to the wars, 
new streams in the desert, new hope for the poor. 
All of the  children will dance as they sing, 
and play with the bears and the lions in spring. 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
"Hush little baby, let go of your fear: 
the Lord loves his own, and your mother is here." 
The child fell asleep as the lantern did burn. 
The mother sang on 'till her Bridegroom's return.
We do parts of Psalm 25 people’s mike style. We can’t find the Spanish Bible today so Steve finds the gospel passage on the ipad for Hugo to read and I read it, baptism and temptation in the wilderness, in English. 
I start by asking Who remembers the story of Noah’s ark?  and Uli is the first to respond with a pretty good tellling of the story. Others add their own details. 
I say that its a classic reboot. Back to the beginning...if you remember,the first  creation story began with the earth covered in water. It’s a do over. 
And then God makes a promise to never again..at least with water..destroy the world.There will be no more do overs,this one has to work...he’ll have to make do with us. I point up to the rainbow flag hanging from the balcony. Kanaska, with her piercings, tatoos and strong voice, artist and occupier, says that it’s beauty, calm after the storm, the sun shining through the last of the rain...The rainbow reminds God of God’s promise. (Either God is growing or people growing in their understanding...) And if you think about it, the bow pointed away from us....
I have to say though, if you’re in New Orleans,with Katrina  or Japan and the tsunami, it may as well be the whole world..it is your whole world...and as apocalyptic as it gets....
I also point out that the covenant is with people and every living creature...not just humans...
And now. This season a chance for us to do over...reboot....I love this time of year...the time of spring training...stretching muscles, getting back in shape again...it’s not only spring training, but also spring cleaning....Lent coming  from a an old word that means ...lenghtening...the days are getting longer. I remember how Chris Shelton, when he was our intern back in 2002, brought in a big ball of lint.  I thought he was just being funny, but then he brought it all home with the cleaning reference, what we find in the dryer,under the bed, need to throw out...One of the best children's sermons  I ever heard. 
And I point out that it was the same spirit that comes down at baptism, the same spirit that says you are my child, my beloved...that immediately drives Jesus into the wilderenss...Where he is tempted by Satan....Which of course raises some questions about God and Satan. Like are they working together? Is Satan like the drill sergeant and this is Jesus’ spiritual bootcamp? Is he like Jesus’ personal trainer who after 40 days will look up and say ok, he’s good to go? For Jesus, it was training...time to get ready for what’s ahead...
For us, too, that’s what this time is for....to get ready for what is ahead...the struggle we are in  is for the long haul...We are learning to live together, learning nonviolence as a way of life, a way of struggle....
And we are getting ready...
For our offertory, I was going to sing Jesus walked that lonesome valley, but since Amy is here we sing  it together:
Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.
And when we’re done, I say, true and not true. Yes, we each have our own unique path to travel, journey to take. But I don’t believe we’re supposed to go it alone.  And as John points out, God goes with us.
We sing a hymn, make our circle, say a benediction and then, Alleluia, amen. 
I sit and talk with Kanaska. She lost her personal guitar in the eviction. The one she has now is taped togetether, but she’s still out busking the subways every day. She’s got a very creative idea for a concert/festival/fundraiser for #ows to hold at the church. I’m thinking session will go with this. She’s with another music guy named Rio.
Uli has enjoyed the service, the intimacy, the conversation, the eclectic mix of people. He and Virginia are off for coffee. I’ve got a session meeting.
My biggest reminder from the meeting...how absolutely essential it is, in any kind of organizing work you’re doing, to never lose touch with your base.  You have to have people feeling involved, engaged and informed at all times.  Or they begin to lose a sense of ownership. Whatever extra it takes to do that, must be done. 
Rev. Sekou and Rev. Karlene visit with us to share the vision of the Freedom Church, the Lawson Training Center, the other ideas we might bring to fruition. When he saw my guitar, he asked me if I played, I said yes. More like Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan? And I just smiled. 
Drop back by after 4 to join in with the Sanctuary folks wishing Jane a Happy Birthday. I stand on the steps awhile with Jeremy talking about Japanese TV and movies. Tell him to see the Iranian film, A Separation.
Uli and I come back for the night meeting. Virginia has come, too. Uli has flowers for her and the occupiers have two shirts for Uli, one that says the whole world is watching and an Occupy West-Park coop shirt. Ben and Jerry have called together other progressive business people to talk about their Resource Management Group. Wanting to fund an organized, structured and principled approach to building a movement to last.  I welcome the group to West-Park. Share our history. 
I’m stopped by an Armenian journalist who wants to talk. And a young woman who was with my son Micah in Palestine.  Uli and Virginia are impessed with what they see, thinking about connecting the FOR with this work.
Out on the steps there are two black shoes and a bag with two bananas. 

Marsha, Uli, Virginia


Saturday, February 25, 2012

The second day of lent: movie night


2/24
Mim cmes to talk about the agenda for Monday night’s meeting. We head across the street for coffee and sandwiches. We continue to be in  that critical space with more tasks to do than there are people to do them, the need for a long range business plan and strategy, a real strategy to build church strength and sorting out the relationship between center and church. It’s a lot. We bring lunch to Danielle, happy that she is there, knowing that we wouldn’t have accomplished what we have so far without her. 
Rudolfo has come to visit and is very proud that he has found a place to stay. Not sure I fully understand how, but that’s ok. Chris talks to me out on  the steps about wanting to borrow the projector so that they can have a movie night and we’re glad to help set that up.
Matthew is having one of his last church rehearsals and we explain to Mim how that all cmae about, Matthew being the son of one of someone close to my mom from her church. As soon as they are done, Martin Bard and his Times Square Players are back again. 
Jamie has been working hard on putting our agreement with Noche Flamenco into standard contract form. It's almost there, all but the riders we are talking through. Just like our other real estae pro, Jon, she is protective of West-Park and helping to keep an eye on the big picture. We decide to go out to continue the onversation.
When  I get back to the church, Raven is talking to a guy sitting in the  doorway. He introduces him as DJ. Raven has explained about not having guests after hours. DJ is appealing to me for a place to spend the night, but I explain that I can’t do that. It’s got to be worked out through the coop.  
I walk into the sanctuary to go to my office and pick up my things before heading home. It’s dark. The Tenant movie screen is back up. Requiem and Rose have the  streaming Netflix hooked up. Movie night is about to begin. That summer camp feel is here again. I could almost stay.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Good for one pint of ice cream


2/22
The meeting has been called to discuss actions for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Call it the M17/18 actions. Jessica the social worker has called the meeting. Stan is facilitating. In additon to OWS folk around the table like Chris and Runi and Steve, Mark Greenburg of the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness (which I chair, cofounded by former West-Park pastor Bob Davidson and Rabbi Marshall Meyer and Father Daniel Berrigan) has joined us. And also Shen, a veteran of Tianneman Square, and Ben. And Jerry. From Vermont. Yes, that Ben and Jerry. 
I want to tell Ben that we once shared a jail cell together. His first arrest. My, well, I can’t remember. A lot of clergy were with us. Like my friends David Dyson and Father Earl Kooperkamp. And Daniel Ellsburg, of Pentagon Papers fame. And his son, along for his first arrest. We were arrested in front of the US mission to the United Nations. Thinking maybe we could prevent a war in Iraq. We didn’t.
So the target weekend is St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The focus, among other things, is hunger. The intention is to gather at Zucotti Park and march to the Irish Famine Memorial. Silently. With dignity. In contrast to the commercialized ritual of cartoon ethnic identity the parade has become. 
There’s concern about competing with the parade. Would there be enough press, etc.? I like the idea of reclaiming the original spirit of the day, an outcry against oppression of Irish immigrants, a plea for dignity. And a connection to hunger and immigrants and dignity today.
The hope is to also encourage the faith community to join in symbolic plantings on Sunday. To symbolize new life. And everyone is open to coming  to West-Park to finish the day with a fiesta in celebration of El Batalon San Patricio.  We’ve got Mandola Joe and his Buskers lined up. All we need is the Mexican music. 
Shen is intense and analytic as a strategist. And completely committed to non-violence. We know of multiple factions planning multiple actions for that weekend. There’s a good discussion of green action vs. red action. I wonder about black action, the still present faction of anarchists and anarchonihilists known as the black bloc. Shen and I will have  that conversation later. 
Much still unresolved. I give Ben and Jerry a quick tour of the sanctuary. Review the social history. Before heading back to Vermont, they leave a healthy check in support of the evolving Occupy West-Park Coop. And the upcoming Sunday night event. And also a coupon good for a free pint of ice cream.
2/23
Matthew’s rehearsal is ending. He’s getting close to being done here at West-Park. Almost ready to head to a real theatre to work on blocking. Martin Bard of the Times Square Playwrights is waiting for his rehearsal for his upcoming play about a veteran returning from Iraq. 

Down in the basement th coop silk screen crew is working on West-Park Coop t-shirts. 
I need to run to my Interfaith Assembly board meeting. When I get back, Danielle is finishing a tour for RL and Sarah, the poet, and her friend Travis, from Colorado. RL’s interested in connecting up Sarah and Amanda. There’s a chance for that to happen next week. And he’s secured Dave’s services for the next step on the bathrooms. 
It’s time to head down and continue that discussion at the Gate.

Ash Wednesday: His name was Isaiah


2/22
It’s a beautiful,sunny warm day for Ash Wednesday. Chris opens the doors for me. Matthew’s cast is rehearsing his musical. I go across the street to Key Foods to buy some olive oil. When  I get back, Anna the caller with the wild fantastic stories is sitting quiety in the back of the sanctuary, her little dog in her lap, listening. When the rehearsal moves to the chapel, she will leave. 
Jim gave us an envelope last week filled with old palms. From their dryness, I’d say they were a couple of years old. But its good to have palms from one of our own Palm Sunday services. I find a small metal bowl. Take it out to the steps. Fill it with the palms. I light them. They flare into flame for a moment, then die away to ashes. Bringing the bowl back into the church, I thiunk if Joseph and his sage and cedar smoke. Danielle says she likes the smell of tthe palms. I mix in a little olive oil. 
I replace the green cover for the communion table with purple. One simple candle. My Christ statue from Columbia, a present from the Sanchez family years ago. My purple Guatemalan stole is missing so I wear the very simplest of stoles with my wheat colored alb. Ready.
As usual, the first person to come is an older middle aged Latina. Probably works in the neighborhood. Rafael is next, slightly shy. Wants to know what it means, so we sit and have a conversation. About mortality. A journey everyone takes, rich or poor. A moment to stop and reflect on that journey. Make corrections, changes. Anything we give up, not so much a sacrifice as a discipline. I feel honored to do this with him. As I do with Steve, who is next. 
I really do love this day.  It wasn’t part of my growing up. It was something alien, even a bit spooky. Something they, as in Catholics, did. Not us. I’m glad that in our 1990’s book of worship, the Presbyterian Church finally offered a service for the imposition of ashes. I enjoy the steady stream of the people, the opportunities for pastoral conversation.
I talk with Hope about this as we work on finishing the statistics. Se grew up as I did. But watching the people come through, quietly, one after the other, she begins to understand why I am glad to do this with/for the commununity. Later in the afternoon we’ll finish the statistics, hit the send button and we’re done. Something either fitting or ironic about doing those stats on Ash Wednesday.
A woman comes in. Very sad. Weeping. Asks me if I’m gonna call the cops on her. I assure her not. She’s an actress. Been on tv. A movie or so. Nothing big. We talk about depression. Meds. How hard it is to find the right therapist. What a crapshoot to get the right meds. We talk more. Then I put the ashes on her forehead, make the sign of the cross, pray. I walk out with her, Thanks, she says, you helped me feel better. A little. I smiled and said, sometimes a little counts, and she smiled back. 
They keep coming, as evening begns to draw near, darkness outside. Arcadia, like every year. Then she brings forward a Mexican worker and I do his all in Spanish. Jamie is in, with her Jewish neighbor. We talk about the connections with the days in between Rosh Ha Shanah and Yom Kippur. The traditional Jewish understanding of mortality. Jane overhears this, and will later come back herself and ask me to do ashes for her. That for me is, again, an honor. 
The last are two African American women, mother and daughter? and a young man of 4 or 5 with dreadlocks. After I have done the women, I turn to him. What is your name, young man? and he looks up at me, looks me in the eye and says, with resolution, Isaiah and I say, that’s good, a prophet, and do his as well. 
I’ll wrap up, join Hope and Arcadia and Hugo for dinner at Popover’s. 
Ahes to ashes, dust to dust. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

But what am I going to do with the X?


2/21
Brandon is in early to pick up a few cables from Woodshed’s storeage. I tell him about having seen Roger Lirtsman, Michel,  from the Tenant, in Stan and Matt’s apartment play last Saturday. Called The Lower Lights and based on an old presbyterian hymn, they’d like to find a way to perform the play for the OWS folks at West-Park. Brandon also looking ahead to his musical event later in  the spring.
Steve has come by and I’m reaching out for legal assistance in this case that still hangs over our heads, still need an insurance and bankruptcy expert.  He’s got more cash to deliver to Danielle.
In th sanctuary, I hear Rev. Sekou trying out a possible music minister, the sounds of gospel dancing around.  We sit and talk awhile, zeroing in on the idea of him opening up an office. I take him to see Danielle again. Hope has arrived  to work on the accursed statistics again. So I introduce them. Sekou’s hoping to set up a book night for his Gods, Guns and Gays that could involve Cornell West.  Something is going to happen here. 
Sekou and I go upstairs to check out his possible office space. Chris is sitting at a table back by the kitchen. As we pass, he shows us what he’s doing. I’m trying to use every letter in the scrabble box to make  words related to West-Park and Occupy. See? I look down and see he’s doing pretty well. Occupy, coop, protest...all there. But what am I going to do with the X? he asks.And Sekou and I think a minute, quickly give up. 
We will continue to wrestle with the statistics. And the contract for Noche...until it’s time for me to head to Newark to teach. It’s Mardi Gras. I’m wanting jambalaya  and gumbo. But not this year...a discussion of Gustavo Guttierrez will have to do. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jane's office is where they keep the guns


2/20

It’s President’s Day. No vacation here.
Hope and I have our first go at the annual annoying round of Presbytery statisitcs filing. This will take way too many hours. Wandering down winding internet paths. Numerical wild goose chases. 
I step out. Talk to Rafael. Someone has made him out to be a serious crime kingpin. I’m telling him he’s shorting me and better come across. There’s some pretty exciting stories. I might be concerend if the same caller has not described Danielle as glassy eyed and Mooniesque under the thrall of Rafael’s Jim Jones mind control. Uh, no. What is scary, though, is that moment when you realize that the crazy caller literally believes what she is saying. That’s why our ancestors thought it was possession. It may be. 
When I come back after physical therapy, Hope is meeting with Danielle and Rafael and two nurses from the National Nurses Union.We’re talking about setting up a three day a week clinic to handle OWS folks and anyone from the neighborhood who might have healthcare needs. We can make this happen.
Looking up, I realize that for the first time in years, all of the ceiling lights are on. How did that happen? Danielle tells me that she went up into the space between the ceiling and the roof with Jay and Requiem and found replacement bulbs and that they carefully made the exchange. And that Danielle discovered that not only is there glass in the ceiling but there is stained glass. How beautiful that would be with natural light flowing through. If that could only ever happen....
Bobby is wondering around. Filled with Whitney Houston stories. And jazz greats. He’s ready to bring them all here. Jane keeps the Montovani record he gave her on her mantle. According to the caller, Jane’s office is where they keep the guns. 



Monday, February 20, 2012

Today we remember Adham

Adham's shoes, by Peter Salwen

2/19
Today we remember Adham. Teddy and Rafael and Jay are getting everything ready for the service. They’ve got the folding chairs set up for our circle, but I explain that there’ll be more people today. I go off to get the bulletins and when I come back the congregation is already beginning to assemble while Arcadia and her family are getting Mc Alpin Hall ready for the reception to follow. 
Marc has come in to get the sound set up because today we’ll be needing mikes. Amy and Andre are gettign the music ready. An altar has been set up with photographs and other memoria. I look out and see West-Park folks. And occupiers. And Jane. And so many of Adham’s family and friends. And it's time to begin.
We start by singing Morning has broken. Then Arcadia invites family and friends up to light four candles, for grief, for remembrance, for love and for life.  Like the Compassionate Friends annual December Candle lighting ceremony (.http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx ) And Arcadia reads from Facebook postings from after Adham’s death in all their teenage rawness, uncensored emotions, just as they were. Nothing prettied or cleaned up. Nothing hidden. And as always, we sing Sanctuary. 
After John reads the story of Elijah being taken up by the chariots, Andre sings slowly Swing Low, Sweet Chariot...Then we recite the 23rd Psalm together in English and Spanish. Hugo reads a story of Jesus calling disciples from the lakeshore in Spanish and I read the story of the Transfiguration in English. And then I speak.
I rememeber. Getting the phone call in Wahingtom, DC. Getting on the bus to get back to New York City. The dozens of teenagers  who came by the house to share thier grief with Arcadia and Hugo but mainly each other.  The hundreds who came by the Ortiz funeral home, the line stretching down the block.  And the more than 250 who came to worship in the  baement of SPSA that Sunday to remember Adham. 
Three years later, it’s good to remember because it was important for our church. That morning proved we could be a church even without a building. It was, is, the people and our care for one another that made, that make, a church. That morning brought back many people who had been separated, for whatever reason, a time of reconciliation, if only for that moment. And that  morning gave us a chance to witness to hundeds of young people both about our faith and the priceless value of their owh lives. And that a church took them seriously.
Three years later, Adham remains ever young and still with us in many ways. 
Most importantly,  in the circle of friends that were connected to and through him. 
Through the relationship that circle continues to have with his family in their visits to his home, to Arcadia and Hugo. In stories that continue to be told, in laughs that continue to be laughed with him in mind. In lives thay have gotten better because young people have taken themselves and their own value  seriously.
Please understand what I am saying:
I believe that God can and does work for good in all things if we are willing to be open to working with God. That does not mean that everything that happens is a part of God’s plan. God has a plan, but not everything that happens is part of it. Why? I don’t know. Somethings remain a mystery to me. That’s what it means to be human. Sometimes, even God is surprised. And God grieves with us in the deepest part of our hearts.   But God, with our cooperation, has been working good these last three years. 
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. That  one last blast of light before the darkness of Lent descends. The disciples look up on the  mountain, and they see Jesus there with Moses and Elijah...and they get it, what he’s about, what his ministry means...then they look again and see only Jesus...then he takes them back down the mountainside, back to down here, where we live, where we live it out...the glory is only good if we live it out here...
How? There are issues that remain for me, still, from that first Sunday service, three years ago. There are still things that are known that haven’t been said. Things that are known that are hidden. In some ways, that doesn’t matter quite so much anymore. Whatever peace can be found is found and there will always be a tension between pain and peace. And yet....that silence must be a burden...and telling the truth can be a way to be set free...the truth will set you free... and be freeing for all of us who loved Adham. 
Young people, ah, young people of every age, never forget how valuable...and how vulnerable your life is. Take good care of it...and take good care of each other..
Parents....you can never say I love you enough...and doing I love you even better. 
I said we had learned that a church for us is not a building. That’s still true. But buildings become places for church to be lived out. And more...what we do within a building creates over time a certain spirit. Our first remembrance services for Adham were at SPSA, where we were welcomed with hospitality, and we will always remember that. But it was not his spiritual home. This place was. I looked at a picture just last night of his confirmation day. Standing right about there....It is good to remember him here, finally. Like coming home, bringing him home, in a way. And so today, we remember...and give thanks, for Adham...for what he was, and is, in our lives.
As the offering is taken up, we sing Tu has venido a la orilla, Lord you have come to the lakeshore, and for the first time I feel myself choking up, almost unable to sing. 
Arcadia brings up several young people who have tatoos in remembrance of Adham. They hold up the pictures. And she tells the story of the dragon fly that came into her apartment and followed her and the other dragon fly stories people have experienced adding this community’s story to centuries of traditions.

Our final hymn is Pues si vivimos: When we are living.

En la tristeza, y en el dolor
En la belleza y en el amor
Sea que suframos, o que gocemos
Somos del senor, somos del senor....

In sadness or pain
In beauty or in love
Ins uffering or rejoicing
We ae of God, we are of God...

I’m not sure what to do with so many people, but Jane tells me we can make a circle all around the church. And we do,  And as the service ends, we hear first Bob Marley’s One Love and fittingly, Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love..
Upstairs there is food. And people talking. being together. We do this three years later because the reality of Adham’s tragic death on the subway tracks remains  part of our present. I have the deepest respect and admiration for how Arcadia keeps the reality of pain and loss present while at the  same time keeping all that was good and joyful in his llfe present as well. And does this while staying completely alive in each new moment that comes and present to the people around her. In this there is courage. Grace. And most of all, life. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Definitely home



2/18
Back to West-Park after four days in Louisville. I’ll only say that the crisis in mainline Protestantism is visible at every level,  in our church from the national to the presbytery to the local congregation.
Danielle’s in on a Saturday to catch up on a few things. I ask Steve to sit down, talk with him about any connections  he might have in finding an attorney, specifically one with knowledge about insurance and companies that go bankrupt. It has been really hard getting this advice and the whole issue is still hanging over us. He's got several  places to check.  Rafael drops in just to say Hi.
Rev. Sekou arrives for our conversation.  First he has to vent about the Living Wage Campaign folks apparently selling out and his overall frsutation with Occupy Faith. Lack of black preachers from the Bronx or Brooklyn or Latin Pentecostals. We each have our issues with liberals. Just want to start my own church, he says. But first he wants to catch up with what’s going on with West-Park, What do I want? he asks me.  I say for me, the visions are clear, the pathway, the details, never quite so much.
We both want to see worship, study and action. But Sekou likes alliteration, so he’s for worship, word and witness.  Will we try something different or at the same time? I ask him to come check out West-Park,on a Sunday, see what he thinks. And we agree to do a Bible Study, revolutionary Bible Study, on the Gospel of Mark, using Binding the Strong Man by Ched Myers. And I still want a night to discuss his Gods, Gays and Guns: Religion and the Future of Democracy. Sekou plays me his own setting of We Shall Overcome on the Piano. Kind of bluesy in a minor key.  He looks over his shoulder and sees the police in to talk with Danielle and as he plays, I talk about that ongoing realtionship.

Sekou was late because he was watching Whitney Houston's funeral from Newark. She came from someplace,he says. And i think of my Newark students and our clas on Theologies of Liberation. 

Hugo and Arcadia come in. They too are late from watching Whitne Houston's funeral. This ha stouched people more deeply than I realized.  They are here to  finish plans for tomorrow’s service marking the third anniversary of  Arcadia’s son Adham’s death. It will be our first time to have that commemoration here. Arcadia has brought in an interesting gallery of photographs of tatoos that Adham’s friends have  gotten in his memory. His sneakers thown over a phone line, dragon flies, names,dates...And Arcadia also has what was given to her recently, the last picture of Adham alive that night he died. Eating a muffin outisde a Dunkin Donuts on 122nd, blocks from where he died on the subway tracks. This is still hard. We talk about finishing the service with a Whitney Houston song. And of course, Bob Marley.
I excuse myself for a minute because I see RL out there with a young woman. Sarah, a writer, a poet. He’s got ideas for a poetry open mike. And how maybe how Sarah andAmnada could work together on festivals.  
Outside, Requiem and Rose  have set up a table and are holding an old fashioned bake sale. With brownies that Jean has baked. Curious neighbors stopping by. I am definitely home.