It’s been raining hard and steady for several days. Earlier today the clouds began breaking up; allowing sunlight interspersed with rain showers. As we arrive at CJM the sun is shining across the street as a gentle misty rain comes down on the Memorial. We wait for the shower to pass and as we begin to unload we see a double rainbow in the eastern sky. All foot traffic on the street stops. For a moment we are all one as we gaze at the beautiful site. Sweet.
A strong wind is blowing. We need to anchor down some of the items on the beverage table. The fire blazes immediately. That’s good as it’s a bit chilly. In our neck of the woods May showers bring June flowers.
As we pull our chairs up close to the heat one Occupier says to another, “So how’d it go at the mayor’s open office on Monday?” The other Occupiers answers, “Can you believe it? He wasn’t there. His receptionist said he was out of town. I guess that goes to show how much value he places on his constituents. He has one hour a month where he allows regular people to come and talk to him. He obviously attaches so little importance to the occasion that he can’t even remember to put out an announcement saying he won’t be in the office that day”.
As we light the sage an Occupier explains that there are many types of sage and begins to enumerate them. Another Occupier says, “There’s also a type of sage used by the Mazateca people of Mexico. They smoke it and it has psychedelic properties”. An additional Occupier replies, “The Mazateca? I went to a place high in the mountains of Oaxaca. The Mazateca live there. I didn’t come across the practice of smoking sage but we picked the psilocybin mushrooms from the ground and I took part in their spiritual ceremonies”. The 2 Occupiers then converse for a while about the experiences they each have had in the country of Mexico.
One of our street friends appears. She says, “Hey, you guys are back! This is great!” She is one half of a pair of older women who are twin sisters. They have lived on the street for many years. They’re always friendly, well-mannered and observant of their traditional Indigenous ways. Sometimes they are slightly drunk and sometimes they’re not. She gets some coffee, a cigarette and smudges herself. A few hugs and she’s off. We’re glad to see she’s doing well.
Another Occupier arrives. Someone says, “So I see you’ve been hassling the churches again today”. He laughs and says, “Yup, gotta do it”. This Occupier regularly visits pastors and priests of many local churches to ask questions and to remind them of the actual teachings of Jesus. Tonight he tells us stories about a priest who would only answer the Occupier’s questions if he agreed to be converted to the Catholic religion. Another clergy person was very firm in his belief that women are 2nd class humans who must always be servants of men. The Occupier tells us he stood in front of a large wealthy church during the main service and held a sign asking for help. About 100 churchgoers passed him and looked the other way. One person warily gave him $5 explaining that the pastor of the church expressly forbade his parishioners from giving money to beggars. When the Occupier left he put the $5 into the nearest charity donation box.
The subject of constructing some type of comfortable bench that could be brought to CJM for the street folks to sit on comes up again. An Occupier who has been absent for a while suggests making one using a type of sawhorse design. Another Occupier says, “That’s a really good idea! It could be easily set up and taken down. I never would have thought of that”. As we are discussing the concept we become aware of 2 women loudly cussing and insulting each other. They are on opposite sides of the street. This is rather normal behavior and we are used to it. We continue talking but notice the street is filling up with street people and they are all watching something we cannot see.
Soon an officer from the DPD is standing on the corner and then our good friend the homeless outreach worker arrives. She is going along the street talking to this one and that. As she begins to leave she calls out our name and waves. We wave back and invite her to join us but she appears to be on a “mission”. The crowd comes over to our fire. As they get closer, we realize they are all former campers from our old homeless camp. Everybody sits around the fire laughing and reminiscing. Our friend the street woman from Mississippi arrives. We notice there are now 2 DPD officers standing across the street from us. They are staring pointedly at us. Oh well….. We also notice the bundle of sage has burned out. We light another one, everyone smudges. The cops leave.
We talk some more. Some of our visitors tell stories about what they have been through since we parted last Autumn then they wander off to their various sleeping places. The wood is gone and the fire is dying. Someone says, “Wow, look at the moon”. We get up and peer through a cutaway in the wall of the Memorial. There it is, a clear sky and a beautiful full moon. Sweet.
We’ll be back on Saturday.