Friday, October 28, 2011

"Mike Check!"

Hearing that Thursday night's general assembly at Occupy San Francisco would center on Scott Olsen, the young Marine veteran critically injured (probably by a tear gas canister) in Oakland Tuesday night, I made it a point to end my day at that meeting on Justin Herman Plaza.
The evening began - as usual - at Open Cathedral at 16th and Mission with an unusually moving service attended by twenty or so regulars, our faithful ushers from the Tenderloin, the Rev. Lee Anne Reat and her husband from St. John's Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio (, and – God, hiding again behind her serendipity – Randy from Occupy San Francisco who joined our growing circle for the Lord's Prayer and for Communion.
After the service, I filled a shopping bag with bananas and tortillas at the market across the street and headed for the Ferry Building.  The general assembly was just starting.  Remembering from Monday where the food tent was, I joined the line and emptied the bag on the serving table.  A little girl – maybe five - delighted in a banana.  I said "Hi!' to her single-parent mom and pet their tiny dog.
All the while, I could hear the stream of announcements from the bull horn and the repeated "Mike check!" from each person moving forward to speak to the bowl-shaped crowd of intent, well-behaved youngsters who mixed comfortably with those joining after work in their suits, cellphones in hand.
We learned about the meeting in the mayor's office; the joint undertaking to tend to sanitary conditions (standing next to the dishwashing area, I couldn't help but smile); the "Robin Hood" tax on financial transactions; news that Occupy Wall Street was marching to honor Scott Olsen; the desire to re-name Justin Herman Plaza and Varney Alley, the latter to Veterans' Alley and the former to anything other than the name of the former head of the despised Re-Development Land Agency; and the plans for Saturday's big march.  It all unfolded in an orderly democratic fashion, with each speaker grasping the mike of the bullhorn held by someone else and beginning with an oft-repeated shout - "Mike check!"  
Someone standing next to me asked after "the minister from the Mission with the long black hair…yes, Monique."  "Will she come here?"  I replied that I was sure she would, having just come from a service in the Mission with her.  I, then, asked the young lady taking notes in front of me whether I too could make an "announcement" to the assembly.  "Sure, get on Maria's lineup of speakers." 
I made my way to Maria.  She asked my name and I was handed the mike.  I had been there long enough to understand the cadence – short bursts repeated "amen corner"- style by the crowd to ensure that everyone heard the message. 
I began…"Mike check!...My name's Vicki…I'm here tonight to say…[pointing at my collar]we've heard you…and they've  heard us…I'm here to wish you  Shalom…not the silence of the graveyard…but the true peace of justice…No justice, no peace!...the peace of truly shared prosperity…We are with you!"
And from the smiles, "amens," and high-fives as I melted back into the crowd, I knew that we were, indeed, with each other…that clergy were numbered among the 99% and most welcome in the movement.
I'm back in Vallejo.  It's late.  Bed beckons…and I can pray with added meaning at the end of a meaningful day:
            it is night.

            The night is for stillness.
            Let us be still in the presence of God.

            It is night after a long day.
            What has been done has been done;
            what has not been done has not been done;
            let it be.

            The night is dark;
            Let our fears of the darkness of the world and our own lives rest in you.

            The night is quiet.
            Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
            all dear to us,
            and all who have no peace.
            The night heralds the dawn.
            Let us look expectantly to a new day,
            new joys,
            new possibilities.

            In your name we pray.

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