Sunday, September 29, 2013

You take brothers where you can find them


Taking the cab back from a late flight from Louisville to La Guardia. Anxious to get to Open Mic. Reflecting on 3 days of national church work. The sadness of watching the life flow out of an institution I have loved. It is supposed to be a governing body, a body of deliberation, decisions. Yet most of the time is taken up with cheery presentations, videos, and applause. Someone (not me) said, We’ve left corporate and wound up North Korea. Could we please go back to corporate? Continued loss leads to fear and anxiety leads to seeking tighter control leads to squeezing the remaining life out of the body. Attempts to engage in substantive discussion are met with charges of micro managing. The twin bodyguards of legal and finance are always lurking in the shadows  focused on loss and liability, not facilitation of mission. It is soul deadening. Where is any consideration of the reformed theology of ecclesiology?

Make no mistake...good people are still doing good things on the ground ranging from heroic in Syria to strategic and effective stateside. Peace workers around the globe are doing good work and conscientious and committed faithful bureaucrats work themselves to exhaustion seeking to keep real witness alive. New worshipping communities are springing up all over the place like beautiful wild flowers. But something about the institution....The church I grew up with and committed myself to is gone. What will come will rise from the grass roots. 

              * * * * 

Walking down Amsterdam, I pass the ghetto burrito place. A guy spies my ’70’s era bucco hat and approaches, wobbly. We are famalee...he sings...holding up his hand for a high five...we gonna DO it....You take brothers where you can find them, I guess. 

           * * * *

Inside, the Mic is still Open. Glen is tending bar. I’m in time to catch the end of Pat’s set. He’s off to India tomorrow. Katie steps up, takes the mic.
Katie sings again
Piano Dan at the piano. And she winds her way through some Nora Jones and some old standards. 

Dan does his own set. So does Big Dave. RL invites me up and I talk about saying step on it cabbie, I’ve got an open mic to get to. And i do Louisville Blues, the story of a cabbie I met in Louisville. And two songs that mention or relate to  Pittsburgh in honor of the Pirates’ return to the playoffs for the first time since 1992. I’m hoping this is a good omen for this fall. (I wish I could bring this same ease to 78 Below...)

RL creates an impromptu band to close out with his Crazy Queasy and because we expect it, and can
sing along, Stay Awhile.

The night ends with Pat O and I talking with RL. Listening to his recorded narrative of the barqu barque. )With photos. A wonderful whimsical pushcart sailing ship voyage. And a metaphor for the beauty and sustenance of dreams in our lives. (I‘ll get RL’s actual quote some day...) Which inspires Pat to show a beautiful short movie called overview interviewing old astronauts as to how the world looks from outer space. And how we have to get that we are all connected, all one.( )

Pat O and I leave. RL has paperwork to finish. 

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