Saturday, January 4, 2014

The tenth day of Christmas: Of angels. And one of the magi.


The coldest day yet.  Only fifteen degrees when I get to the church.

Jeremy is here to rehearse for this Sunday’s El Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos/Three Kings/Epiphany celebration. We run through We Three Kings and Freddie Half-Pint Jackson’s Early on One Christmas Morn and De Tierra Lejana…it’s fitting that Jeremy’s group is called the Magi…(to read more about Jeremy go to: )

Geoffrey comes in from the cold to stay warm in the sanctuary.

Spend much of the day waiting for Cara to be released from the hospital. Typical medical bureaucratic snafus. She finally arrives and I take her to lunch at Popover’s. Yet another institution driven out of business by astronomically increasing rents. For 27 ½ years and as long as I’ve been here, they’ve been the go-to place for business breakfasts and lunches and the occasional dinner, with steaming popovers, Russia beef borscht and Mexican chicken soup my favorites. And as of Sunday after brunch, they’ll be gone. I look for the pen and ink drawing of the street including Barney Greengrass and West-Park, but it’s gone already.

Not too long later, Stephen arrives back from Christmas with his family. Ready to move into a new apartment. And then Dion. Stopping to see if there’s an open mic, but no.  He’s happy to see Cara out of the hospital and we all enjoy visiting together. Dion, underneath his stand up comedian persona, is a genuinely caring person. I’m happy how he migrated from open mic to the church community.

Rachelle has been in and out all day. I was relieved to learn she had spent the night at an orthodox schul in Boro Park. And she’s back again after davening at schul.

Pastor, I broke down and cried in schul tonight.
I hesitate for a moment, but go ahead and say, Why?

There were all these happy young people, all these young people from Israel. And I wondered if I would ever have my happy life back again. I had a happy life. I was a happy young person. Oh there were so many parties…

For a minute, I wondered what she might have looked like, back in the day. And for a moment I could almost see her.

And soon enough I’m hearing about the near fatal car accident on the 59th street bridge again. How the car coming the opposite way jumped the median. How a voice told her to buckle her seat belt as her car completely flipped over. How the rescue man told her an angel must have intervened.  And when she called him later, his wife said, Oh you’re the angel lady. You must have work to do. When my husband came home today, he kissed me like he never had before. I have met an angel, he said.

I have heard the story before. And now we hear  how another homeless woman at the schul last night told her she had an aura. How people walking down the street stop because they see she radiates something. How she could read palms. Do you read palms, pastor?
No. I don’t know about my aura either.
How when she was even a little girl people asked her for advice. And how she always advised the young girls. And now…

I go through the routine again of possible solutions. And as always, every idea is met by a yes but....  There is nothing I can do if she refuses what is available. But it is still bitter cold. When they were much younger, liberal pastor friends of mine tried welcoming  the homeless poor into their homes. That never turned out well. And I just can’t do that. Can’t take that level of responsibility. Boundaries. But it is still bitter cold. She looks at me intently, will I ever have my beautiful life back? 

And I think, not on this side.

Usually, I feel that reality is so painful, she refuses to look at it. (I never look in mirrors..) But somewhere inside, it's always there.

RL and I help her mini carts out the door. I wish there was an open mic to go to. But instead go up to watch another episode of Leverage with RL. No direct theological message here except for the rare underlying class critique and the gray territory of Nate’s Robin Hood activity.

And it’s even colder out now.

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