I did not want to be in Pennsylvania with a bunch of nice peope who truly do not know the horror of 9/11. My apartment was in the East Village and I worked one block from the WTC at a large law firm. Something propelled me back to NYC. I thought too many people would be at Ground Zero and, frankly, I felt unsafe lingering downtown or midtown. One of the gems of my life is my time as a regular worshipper and volunteer at the Cathedral Churech of St.John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the world, located uptown, next to Columbia's main campus. I am a Columbia alum. So it was homecoming day, also.
The catehdral was full. Not as packed as at Christmas or Easter. It is so large it is easy to underestimate crowds b/c of the scale being so huge. Firemen from around the world were everyplace. I passed some bars on the way that evidently offered free drinks to anyone in uniform. Recalling the immediate 9/11 atmosphere, it was great to see racucous, drunk, bunches of firemen in uniform, holding forth outside the bars, drinking in plain sight. Drinking in public is a big no-no in NY for some reason. Every major player in the Episcopal Church was there. Amidst great pomp and circumstance, including beautiful vestments, incense, and a professional choir, the Presiding Bishop gave the sermon. It was good, far from great. Much int'l controversy accompanied her election b/c she is a woman.
The cathedral is simply spectular with art and architecture. Oh, there were Episcopal nuns. Sometihng you don't see every day. The sense of a loving and concerned community was the most remarkable thing, KH it was not. The diversity was incredidb. The glory was only a back drop to a place where I was very jazzed up and became calm during the service. The ritual helped me relax. Dignitary after dignatry gave meditatios at Vespers. In contrast to past year, no one cried very hard. People were traumatixed but there was pride how NY has rebounded.
The NYC Gay's Men Chrous was part of Vespers. Their sound was heavenly. After the service concluded, the POrtland, Or. Gay Men's Chrous gave us a free concert of magnificent music. A lot of Oregonians were present. It got little notice at the time but thousands of Oregonians came to NYC to help in rescue and recovery. From Oregon, at their own expense. Evidently, a very long trip to NY, unlike a few subway stops. The first openly gay Bishop in the American church conducted the combined NYC and Portland choruses. I have read much about him in the New York Times and Time magazine. His election put us on the outs with the rest of the community. Many parishes left the American church. I was about three feet from him. He looked lite a mature, ordinary man. I saw no fangs or horns.
The day soothed my soul. I visited Columbia's campus and said hello to some new students. My time there was wonderful, turbulent, marked by great transition. It was hard to go from KH to Columbia. Now it is in my bones. It gave me rekinkled hope that as I face present challenges, I can make it all right. Those were the key years of my life. I assimilated into the upper middle class. Eating at old haunts was fun, too. I rarely could afford to eat at these places when a student.
The day was sooting. If I remaineda a Witness, I would know nothing of these riches. And the WT locked their doors. My mom brought down water and food, offered shelter for a rest to the exodus headed uptown to where no trains were running. Neighbors purchased water in bulk at local stores and handed it out. Ordinary people did exceptional things. Half of my fire house perished. Within my building, almost every door was festooned with giant posters of their missing dead.
What would Jesus do? Jeus would help get water, fresh shoes, a place to wash the debris from people, comfort those who jumped, lead the charge on the fiey mess. Of course, my foremost questio remains what person quipped that day, "God must have been on vacation that day." The world gave a powerful witness to their core beliefs. The WT gave their witness. Which one is the true religon? No one need read a Bible, hear doctrine, or anything else too fancy. The human gut reveals the answer. Homeless people sent money. Wow.
I've posted here before that I had to go to Bellevue for services during this time period. Many minorities thought the whites had it coming. It sickened me. What beyond brainwashing and mind control can wipe out basic empathy?