Friday, April 19, 2013

How good and pleasant it is


Marsha and Hope and I meet at the Bean across the street to talk about the congregation. The extended uncertainty weighs on us all.  And has been hard on those who have endured, stayed faithful for years.

i come back across the street to meet with Kimberley. We review and evaluate her last worship service. And the musical review/exploration of Genesis she did at Union. Were hoping to do it here, but most of her cast is heading home as the semester is all too quickly coming to a close. She’s got something well worth doing.

Deacon James stops in, wearing his Korean War vet’s hat. On his way back form the hospital. Wants me to know he’s still alive. breathing’s hard, but he’s hanging in. 

A man comes in. Has a job interview. Needs clothes. Has an appointment at St. John the Divine. I help him get there.

Martin is conducting a workshop. Stephen has been working with him, sharing with him a photographer’s eye on perspective. Thinking again about Elizabeth Herman’s striking portrait gallery from Occupy.( ) Especially her shot of me looking off to the side.

Stephen impressed by Martin’s broad ranging interests and insatiable curiosity and how he brings that all to his work. That’s why he’s here, I say. 

Cara is in to sweep and clean and play awhile before Dzieci arrives for the healing circle.

Rachelle has all her things spread out on a bench, going through them piece by piece, item by item. Nothing really of value, but she feels it’s important work. In her mind, she’s still the bright cultured woman professor living on the East Side.

Anna comes in. More than anything, she’s a a woman with a deep compassion for others. And a desire to help, to fix things if she could. In #OWS, she was known as Big Bertha, but for me, she should only be called Anna. There’s someone she cares about deeply. And in two minutes rattles off a dozen or more alternative strategies and resource references to execute them. I say, Do you have any idea how much you have just told me in the last two minutes? I can’t even remember  it or write it down fast enough ...She smiles and says, So I’m doing it again huh? and I smile. Her capacity to retain all this information is nothing short of amazing. 

Frog & Peach deep into rehearsal.

Matt from Dzieci wants to schedule their Cirkus Luna!, a family troupe hailing from East Molvenia....I share with him the reviews of their Passion, those who were upset with their using the communion table as a prop and not having a more recognizable worship experience to frame it and those who wondered if it were not inappropriate appropriation of Jewish symbols for a Christian story. And those who felt moved to tears, as if they had never truly understood the story as their own before. I want to talk more with him about worship, ritual and performance. About where the lines are. And whether the lines are even important. And how this experience can be used to build a community. But we run out of time. 

The healing circle continues to intrigue me. Touches my skepticism and desire. Always new people as well as the Dzieici circle. Totally non-verbal, resonance of ancient tribal chant, medieval church, monastery, coven....Matt completely aware and watching and directing. A circle diverse enough to defy characterization. 

After it’s over, Cara tells me she’ll miss church because she’ll be at a wedding. 

When the others leave, i stay for the Dzieci evaluation of their passion experience. I share the critiques I’ve heard. The problematic histories of passion plays. Matt speaks of the first time he did this was at a convent with nuns. In habit. How the creation emerged from their community. This was different. 

One’s husband felt it conveyed the idea that the Jews killed Christ, but that was a lone experience. 

Many of the cast were from a Jewish background. Including Orthodox. Had wanted to explore what had been for them an alien, forbidden world and found a story that had its roots in their own. Those from a Christian background understood for the first time the origins of bread and wine. The Eucharist rooted in passover. And for all of them, the power of the use of kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning that goes deep into their memories, the mourning prayer that doen’t speak of death but only affirms life.  

And I speak of how ending without resurrection not visible, with a reaffirmed community recessing to hinay ma tov (how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in harmony, psalm 133) underscores my understanding of the victory in being willing to follow faithfully to the end, even the cross. And through the following, find transformation. 

And how the meta level has not only a community reality but that of the individual as well. Inside each of us we are the betrayer and the betrayed, the crucifiers and the crucified, Judas and Jesus. The reality inside each of us.

The discussion ends. Martin’s workshop is continuing. Frog & Peach has finished. Share a few words with Lynnea. Try to explain Dzieci. Namechck Grotowski and Brook. Lynnea’s trying to bring her Measure  for Measure home. My day is over. 

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