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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Sunday: She's waiting to hear from you



9/1

September. Damn.
The lost patrol is asleep on the steps when I arrive. Come on guys, get up, I’ve got to get the doors open. Time for church. They’re none too happy about getting up. I finally get them at least off to the side. But they’re halfway blocking the way to Barney Greengrass. Which I'm sure Gary is not too excited about. 
I‘m walking down 86th Street and see a familiar face. It’s my cousin in law’s daughter Sarah and her husband Ryan and baby Dylan. Baby? He’s over two years old. And I realize that I’ve never seen him. And I feel a twinge of sadness. I’ve been aware that they’re now living in the Belnord across the street. It’s pleasant enough. They’re good people. And I miss them.
People are slow arriving. It is Labor Day weekend. The end of the summer. Sigh. Everyone coming back. Just not yet. I haven’t been away. I’m making calls to make sure that we’ve got enough for a quorum for the vote we have to take today. When there’s enough to begin, I get up and sing, Hard times come again no more... suggested by a friend on the anniversary of the March on Washington.(thank you AE). I thought about playing onE of the myriad recordings but since it was haunting me, decided to just, well, sing it. MandolaJoe got me the original sheet music on line. I’m anxious to do it with him and his gravelly bass. Everyone from Cash to Dylan to Springsteen to Nancy Griffith and Emmylou Harris...oh and the Chieftains...






                                                          Emmy Lou's version

I asked who knows who wrote that and of course Marsha knows. Stephen Foster. 1855. Died at 37. In New York City. On the Bowery. Taken home to Pittsburgh to be buried. Great song for our time.
1.
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh hard times come again no more.
Chorus:
Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

2.
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.
Chorus

3.
There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.
Chorus

4.
Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.
Chorus

We start with our Jeremiah again. (2: 4-13) God’s voice through him sounding put out, annoyed....See if there has ever been such a thing...be appalled o heaven, at this, be shocked,be utterly desolate...my people (are) cracked cisterns that can hold no water...

Hebrews 13: 1-8, 15-16; another epistle of general moral instruction. But with that wonderful phrase Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it...The Kong James version is so much better Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares....

Angels unaware...I love that..Marsha remembers that from Sunday School back in Texas...And it raises questions for us again about the whole steps situation. Could the most annoying be angels sent by God to catch us unaware? Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God....

We finish with the gospel, Luke 14: 1, 7-14.The whole deal about taking the lower place at the banquet so you’ll get invited up. And inviting people to your banquet who can’t pay you back. Marsha as always sees through some of this. If you take the lower seat strategically, what’s good about that? And isn’t there something inherently patronizing about the description of the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind...we can hear Hope’s voice even though she’s not here.

I share the new concensus that Luke is the latest gospel. Written as the community is beginning to be established. Very sensitive, perhaps the most explicitly concerned about the poor, but also very nuanced as to the rich. A very compassionate liberal, one might say.

As it’s Labor Day weekend, I have us end our reflection by sharing about our work. Marsha enjoys when she can get an elderly person hooked up with the housing and other resources they need. Stephen enjoys being back in medical education. Cara sharing  her music with others. John when he’s out of the lab and working with real patients. Leila the travel that goes with her art. Pat, being  retired and being a grandmother. Larry also retired. Jokingly describes himself as a spy, checking us out. But he enjoyed his work  as a psychologist, watching  people change their lives.

We share our communion, John and Pat serving.
Then  brief congregational meeting to ratify the specific contract we’ve negotiated regarding the sale of our manse. One step closer to stability.

The lost patrol is still there. I ask Joe, so what's the plan? 
The plan? He says, It's Sunday.
Yes, it's Sunday I say. Still can't just hang here all day.
There is grumbling. The new guy, a bit of an eminence gris, stares at Cara. And she stares right back, Yes I see you, time to move on. 

The marine  never showed up for mass.

But late in the day, as I’m trying to wrap things up, he walks in. Looking distraught again. Could  he ever be forgiven? Truly forgiven? Thou shalt not kill? He talks about a former marine he met who’s now a Southern Baptist priest. (I wonder at his mixed religious images, but....) Who told him he was being attacked. He had to fight. And that God does forgive. I talked about my friends Cols. Dale Zelko and Zoltan Dani, the friendship they have developed. 

And we talk about  grace. And the first step being forgiving  himself. Accepting yourself as you are. No more hiding. How it’s like being in an open field with gunfire all around. Slowly he calms down, relaxes. He is seriously working on accepting himself. Forgiving yourelf is the hardest of all. As he leaves, I say, Call your daughter. She’s waiting to hear from you....

While I'm talking with the marine, Marc walks in. There's a gentleman here in is wheel chair. Says you've got his phone.And camera.
So, Sean. I get them for Marc, continue my conversation.

She's waiting to hear from you

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