Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!


The Peace marchers arrived

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Danielle is here and Stephen has come in so that we can prepare for the annual Martin Luther, Jr. Day neighborhood march from church to church. West-Park will be the third stop, after SPSA. We’re expecting a large crowd. So we are chagrined to find Rachels’ stuff spread out all over the pews. And even more surprised to find that her original carts have now tripled. RL had tried to tell me but I hadn’t noticed. The original agreement was that she could move two carts in here and have two days to get her most important stuff out that we would then box. Like that was going to happen. A month later, she has brought three times as much stuff in now. With no sign of stopping. Food, shredded papers, mouse droppings. We gather her stuff up and move it to a corner.

She appears from the chapel, where she is not supposed to be, calling it the dining room, and comes into the sanctuary accusing us of having made  a mess of her things. I almost lose it as Andre and Jeremy, rehearsing for the march, look up, wondering what’s going on.

I try to explain to her what the problem is, like that is really going to get through. Then have to leave her with Danielle as we scramble to get the scraps picked up. Danielle will tell her anything not gone by Thursday is going out. It’s a health hazard.  A fire hazard. She tells Danielle that everything was fine until she came back from Iowa. And that Ha Shem would not be kind to those who are mean to poor old disabled ladies. When I told her that she had tripled her stuff, she says that’s what she has collected to sell to help your church. But now, we will never know what grand plans she had to help us. No, no, not now. She simply can’t see. And doesn’t flinch when Danielle asks her what other congregation would let her spread her stuff out all over the sanctuary. Enough. I’m done.

Soon the marchers start to arrive. Jeremy leaning into the piano,leading into Woke up in the morning with my mind fixed on freedom…Our new city council member Helen has arrived. She jumps in to help pass out bulletins. Tells me she’s going to tweet this. There’s a wonderful enthusiastic buoyancy to Helen as she begins her term as city council member. As if this political world were a surprise package to be unwrapped and opened up with excited anticipation. It is refreshing to have someone not yet rendered cynical by the process, although she is certainly not na├»ve. It will be interesting to see what she can accomplish.

Then I notice Rachel up front handing out bulletins. Sigh.

There are signs like Economic justice for all, with no exception. And given our collective commitment to food justice, a sign demanding the restoration of food stamp benefits. I welcome the marchers. Welcome Helen. Introduce our musicians, including a friend of Jeremy’s on the cajon. I explain that we chose food justice because you can engage the issue at every level of the process: production, distribution, consumption….then I challenged Helen to work with us on universal school lunch. ( I probably should have asked her to speak…)

Here is what we read:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March
Westsiders for Peace with Justice
West Park Church - January 20, 2014

“I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., American Civil Rights Leader

55 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.

See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near;

let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

"Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table when [we have] the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all [hu]mankind with the basic necessities of life? ... There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture

What happens next is amazing. I was waiting for the group from Workcenter to arrive and sing but only Felicita has made it so far. And she is ready to stand up and sing alone. So with a piercing voice, she sings Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;…..and she continues, the voice coming from a place very deep inside. It goes straight to the heart. Andre looks transfixed.

When he gets up to sing again, he looks at her, looks at the congregation and says, that…..was….amazing…And we all finish and go out to Stevie Wonder’s happy birthday song for MLK, Jr.
Andre and Felicita

Jeremy G and the Workcenter singers have finally arrived. George C comes up and introduces himself. He’s wearing his hair quite differently so I don’t immediately recognize the husband of our last administrator before the crash. And I remembered the happy days when we hosted the annual kirking of the tartans for the Caledonian club. How we’d retire upstairs for haggis and single malt. The year they were joined by the Spanish celtic gallego bagpipers. And the year George and Priscilla got my Brazilian associate Reggie and I fitted for kilts. One year, I had to run to a meeting still in the kilt because my vote was needed. My community organizer and Pittsburgh friend David said my entrance was like Braveheart coming over the hill. Thanks Goerge, for those memories. He tells me it’s two years since Priscilla passed.

I leave to catch up with the march, Andre and Felicita still deep in conversation.

I return to join Kathrine and Mim and Ted and Asya in a meeting with a consultant about how to get the story of the Center told and be positioned for fundraising. We finish by giving him a tour.

Danielle is leaving for the day. Drained by Rachel. Who even though we try to be caring are seen as hostile unless we do what she wants. And she does play us. And, no I don’t want day old left over food from Starbucks. And please don’t keep it here. No, please. I don’t really…Danielle tries very hard. The situation is by definition crazy and we should stop trying to pretend it’s otherwise. But damn it’s hard.

Bob and Workcenter singers
Mario and the Workcenter are beginning their open singing. Andre is still with them. Enthralled.

Martin stops in. His mother Luli had been in to talk about the possibility of their expanding operations. There’s a lot in the air.

Sonnie comes in with a full brood of teen and preteen children. His stepchildren? The whole story, uh…well, hard to follow.

Berik has a new lock for the mezzanine where his classes will begin.

It’s late. I’m heading up to see RL, but turn around and see Rachel still here, luring in the shadows. You still here?
Pastor, I didn’t want you to be here alone. Do you wan tany food? It’s from Starbucks. Here take some….
Rachel, please go.

I have a dream….he said….

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