Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gratitude for Adventure

The word ‘journey’ used to mean a single day’s travels, and the French word for day, jour, is packed neatly inside it, like a single pair of shoes in a very small case.  Maybe all journeys should be imagined as a single day, short as a trip to the corner or long as a life in its ninth decade.

June 30, 2015 7:49EDT

I’m sitting in the living room, at the window of our upstairs 2-bedroom apartment.  The sun will inevitably set, but not for another two hours.  It’s dark though.  A storm is rumbling in from the West.  There’s a calm drizzle—a refreshing solace at the culmination of an adventurous 72 hours. 

This afternoon, Lindsay left for Camp Chick, an annual week-long retreat of the Detroit Peace Community, a tight knit network of families whose children are now all adults, some with their own children.  There’s no program for the week—just whatever you want to do: hike, bike, kayak, swim, eat, sleep.  The campground will provide verdant soil for bonding with friends we have gotten to know well and some we still just recognize by face. 

This morning, I biked to Manna Meal, the soup kitchen that has been open five mornings a week in our church basement for the past 38 years.  I washed trays and talked with guests.  Maurice got excited when I told him I was from Southern California.  He grew up in Inglewood—Morningside High School.  A young man who calls himself Brooklyn argued with me for 10 minutes: Lebron, he claims, has got nothing on Kobe and Michael.  It’s all about the championships.  I wouldn’t let him get away with that simple standard. The Game is richer, more complicated than that.  Since it was the end of the month, the basement was full of guests—some with mental illness, many homeless, most jobless, but a myriad of quick smiles, fist bumps and sincere laughter. 

Last night, about 15 of us gathered at St. Peter’s.  The five African-American women who lead up We The People of Detroit were hosting a delegate from the Venezuelan government.  Carlos spent an hour undoing the last two decades of American media reporting on his country and her late-president Hugo Chavez.  My adulthood has been filled with stories catastrophizing the “dictator” and his oppressive socialism.  Carlos had a completely different account.  Isn’t that interesting? They too had serious water issues back in the late 90s at the time Chavez was elected: only 55% of the population had access to clean, running water.  Today, 96% do.  A rich dialogue ensued about access to a country’s assets (water, land, housing, education), fair elections, what it takes to organize to create a government that primarily cares about all her people and, ultimately, about what binds us all together (Detroiters & Venezuelans)—what Monica Lewis-Patrick passionately summed up as “embracing the ideology of the Beloved Community: if my brother’s not doing alright, then I’m not doing alright.”

On Sunday morning, we traveled 50 miles north to the small town of Richmond, MI.  Our friend Denise is the pastor at the United Church of Christ there and she recruited us to fill in for her during her own travels.  Lindsay led the service and I preached a sermon on the Gospel episode of Jesus’ healing of two women.  After the service, Lindsay led a “blessing of the motorcycles” for Amy & Rob, headed on a motorcycle pilgrimage to Kentucky.  Keep Amy in your thoughts and prayers—her cancer is in remission.   We had lunch at Blake’s Cider Mill, sharing a cheese board and sampling the best hard cider in the watershed.   

In the coming days, we await a visit from our good friend Mike Smith and look forward to participating in some of the Detroit-to-Flint Walk for Water Justice, a week-long, 60 mile walk to call attention to all the residents suffering without water along the route.


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