Sunday, July 27, 2008

July Witness

Last Sunday evening down at Lafayette Park, my friend Noah Budin sang what I’ve long considered a kind of hoary old folk song: Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.

Last night I had the strangest dream

I'd ever dreamed before

I dreamed the world had all agreed

To put an end to war

As Noah sang, a crowd of tourists gathered to watch and listen to our small band of folks who had come together in front of the White House to pray for peace. I don’t know what the tourists thought. Some may have thought, “bunch of naïve fools,” others may have thought, “nice voice,” still others may have thought, “right on,” and some may have thought, “cool, protesters, now my DC tourist experience is complete.”

To a great extent, it does not matter what others think of the dream and visions that we give voice to as we witness for peace. God calls us to witness to a vision of a commonwealth of belovedness marked by compassion, justice and peace. God calls us to dream kingdom dreams.

So we will continue the witness. Placing one small stone at a time until we change the landscape. We gather again on August 17 at 6:00 p.m.

In the meantime, here’s a poem that Noah wrote inspired by our witness.

Stone In My Pocket

And if I feel you’ve left me bare and wasted

In the presence of the absence of your love

And the signs you send are hard, obscure and hidden

I may need to look no further than my hands

And when I heard him speak that day I realized

One can’t move a mountain using words alone

Nor can hearts be changed by might and power

But gestures small and subtle kindle flames

I closed my hand around

A piece of quartz no bigger than my thumb

It came 400 miles just to find me

But I dismissed it, put it in my pocket. Gone.

And the next day when I found it I just kept it

And the next day after that and then the next

And I thought of Lafayette Park and people praying

Where that stone was witness there to hymns of peace

It was laid upon the fence as a reminder

Of the shards of broken souls and wounded hearts

Of the shreds of fabric crashing through the windows

Of a shattered nation, tired, scorched, engulfed

Now it goes where I go

At times it jabs my thigh and leaves a mark

But I can live with that small and spare discomfort

For I wrestle with the damage every day

And here’s the thing about a piece of quartz

It just may be the oldest stone on earth

And it’s found in every land around the globe

And if you listen you can hear it softly weep

This one I keep to remind me of the present

Was here long before the planet knew our names

And it will remain long after earthly flesh has faded

And sometimes signs are hidden in plain sight

So when I feel you’ve left me bare and standing

In the presence of the absence of your love

I may need to look no further than my pocket

And hear the crying of that stone. Our job’s not done.

© Noah Budin 2008

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