Monday, August 11, 2014

Never again


Pat O’s job today is helping me corral my thoughts about our future. Define carefully the vision. The mission. The values. The activities. The commitments. And begin to turn it into an actual plan. With definable, achievable, measurable goals. A strategy. It’s a step.

Outside, Sean is in his wheel chair. Clean and dressed. (Clothed and in his right mind, as the Bible would say.) Hey Bob, he says, I’m sorry. For the mess, for what I said, for…

That’s what I needed to hear. It’s OK. But what’s up? What’s the plan? Seems he’s lost his place to stay somehow. Back on the street. 

I think I got a line on a place, only $100 a week, but I got to borrow a wrench. Need to fix my electric wheel chair. Do you have a wrench?

I have no idea where to look. But I’ll call David S. He’s got one. So I call David. He’ll be right over.

Shinji Harada, MATARO, Wornell Jones
In the sanctuary, there’s a sound check going on for tonight’s peace concert. Shinji Harada and his band. Not what I was expecting. Shinji’s latest hit – and album—is YAMATO, global harmony. Middle of the road anthemic pop. With hooks galore and a sing along rising chorus. But free from that, he and his band are gong to heavier places. Like Hendrix. Hard jamming rock, bouncing, playing off each other.

That’s the background for when people start arriving to say thanks to Danielle. A representative group
Pat O, Carman Moore, Danielle, Priska, Jeremy G and Lynnea

from across the life of West-Park. (August is the month in  New York City when everyone who’s anyone and even who’s not is just gone….) There’s Pat O. Musician. Open Mic stalwart. And now a business consultant volunteer in deeper than he’s imagined he’s be. Priska, artist and Danielle’s back up for keys, tours,etc. Carman Moore, Guggenheim award winning composer and musician, ever exploring new sonic worlds. Collaborator with dancer/choreographer Kiori and performance artist/singer/actor Lotte. Lynnea who birthed
Danielle and Bob
Frog & Peach Theatre and has somehow managed to keep them alive and producing quality Shakespeare.  Jeremy,actor, creator, the Grotowski Work Center. The each talk about what’s special about Danielle. For me the biggest is that she’s been there. All the time. Believed completely in what this could be. And stayed faithful through the darkest, driest times. Dealt with all the crazy people who walked through the door. Or steps. She was there. Not having her here is too hard to imagine. But it will be. Next week. Something very strong and true about her that will be hard to replace. And then one by one, the friends depart. 

Soon enough, the crowd is gathering and Shinji drops back into pop star mode. With his call for peace and harmony. Before his concert is over, I slip out to head cross town to the cathedralesque St. Bart’s where my friend Kristen is joining  seminary friend David  and his band in Let There be Songs to Fill the Air, a concert in honor of the 19th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. Two big sets of Garcia music echoing around the cold Anglican walls. The leader, David Bryan, did his masters’ work developing a theology of the Grateful Dead. Kristen, also a friend of the Collection and Russ J and a Wild Goose veteran, they are a glimpse into, a piece of the future. After the first set, I race back to West-Park.
Live from Nagasaki

Q & A with Hikabushas is almost over. It is almost time to join the live feed from Nagasaki as we approach the exact time of the bomb strike there. And then, on the big screen in the sanctuary, there we are, instantaneously connected to Nagasaki. The audience, with New York hikabushas and familes, linked. There. Here.

I listen as the deputy mayor reads the Nagasaki Peace Declaration of 2014. (The Declaration has it’s own post following…) There are the
Reading the Nagasaki Peace Declaration
symbolic ritual offerings of water and flowers. The peace cranes. The children’s choir. There are the silent procession of foreign diplomats  bearing flower wreaths, including US
An offering of flowers
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy from our neighborhood. The beautiful sunny day. (Hibakusha Tomiko Morimoto described the cloudless beauty of the day the bomb fell on Hiroshima. Just like it was for us on 9/11…)The declaration is read again. And then it is over.
TK gives a blessing. Asks me to speak. I say that it has been an honor to live throughout these days with them. You have honored, remembered, memorialized the victims. You have recognized and blessed the survivors, the hikabusha. You have celebrated life. And have raised a quietly passionate plea to the world for a future of peace. There is no alternative. I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity to share in this with you.

And it is true. On the one hand, I am deeply appreciative of TK. That he had a vision of what this could be. And kept at it until it became real. So much more than our traditional one-night service. He made it happen. 
Bob and TK

But I am also profoundly moved and disturbed. Watching the ceremony from Nagasaki. Realizing the deep wound, scar, we inflicted on this people. This earth. This creation. They bear it with a quiet dignity and keep resolute in their witness that there should never, ever, be another use of a nuclear weapon.

And I know we are responsible for this destruction. Yes, generally fellow human beings. But concretely and specifically Americans. We did this. How dare we speak of a war on terror when we  incinerated over a quarter of a million people, mainly innocent men, women and children, for a political purpose. Let the  genie out of the bottle so to speak. How dare we even maintain an arsenal? The former Soviet Union with nuclear weapons across many independent countries now. And create a situation wherein we think its OK for us to have them, because, you know, we represent the good, and Israel (though it’s still not officially admitted and therefore completely unregulated) but if any other country, say Iran or North  Korea wants one, just to, you know, belong to the club, feel important and real, well, that’s worth going to war over. It is unconscionable moral madness. And we don’t even think about it anymore. Certainly don’t teach it in schools. I say this knowing my father believed that dropping the bomb saved him from having to go to Asia. He was in California, getting ready.

I looked at their faces. The silence. The solemn tolling of the bells. They are right. Never again. Never. Ever. Again.

The Mayor of Nagasaki. In West-Park

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