FROM THE RECTOR
Between Here and There
For some years now one of my least favorite pieces of public art has been located where Adeline Street becomes Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, just where the BART tracks emerge from underground at the Berkeley/Oakland city border.
As a proud native of Oakland I am frustrated by the misuse of one of Gertrude Stein’s quotes from her autobiography, that when she went back to Oakland, “there was no there there.” What Stein was lamenting is that when she went back to her childhood home it was gone––torn down and replaced by an industrial park. So the declaration that Berkeley is HERE while Oakland is THERE is just, well, missing the point.
But recently I have found reason to spend time in the shadow of those letters, thanks to an invitation from an All Soulsian, Tess Taylor. Tess had been spending time with the residents of those living in the encampment just west of the sculpture and thought that it would be a good thing for me to visit and spend time there as well. She was absolutely right.
In my conversations with several members of the camp I have been stunned, saddened, and inspired, often all at the same time. It is incredibly hard to live on the street. The combined effects of wind and rain, noise, vermin, all alongside being frighteningly vulnerable to crime, are just staggering. And so I have often been deeply saddened to see the toll that living on this patch of dirt takes on these women, teenagers, and men.
And. Rarely in my life have I come across a group of humans who are so diligent and intentional about living together in community. There are clear rules about living in the Here and There camp––it’s clean and sober, you have to keep your tent and surroundings free of trash, everyone needs to pitch in for common work, and you need to participate in the weekly camp meetings. The ways that they live together are Gospel: caring for anyone in need, pooling resources so that all can survive, holding each other accountable for their behavior.
And. I don’t want to romanticize the incredible difficulties that the residents of this camp face. Everyone that I’ve talked with wants to live indoors, some in this area, some away from the Bay. But for various reasons they are stuck between here and there. And, they have made the choice––every day they make the choice––to live with respect and care for each other, those living around them in the neighborhood, and the environment as a whole.
As Tess and I have talked over the past couple of months it has become clear to me that like Tess, I wish to be in relationship with those living in the Here and There camp. And I am hoping that others at All Souls Parish might be willing as well. Yes, to help provide basic supplies so that they can survive the winter to come as well as possible. Below in this Pathfinder you’ll find the specifics of what they are hoping for: boots, weatherproof tarps, waterproof bins, rain jackets. But also to offer what they are also hoping for as well––human relationship.
Because they are hoping that folks might be willing to spend time playing board games, offer rides up to Tilden, be able to drive them to deliver items that aren’t needed in this camp to other organizations or camps that could use them. In short, through discreet and tangible ways, to be in relationship with them.
In my brief times in conversation there––about solar panels, HMOs delaying hip surgeries, broken relationships, desires to live more simply, and the turns that our lives have taken––I have consistently come away feeling both unexpectedly grounded and uplifted. Grounded in that I am more aware of the reality that our neighbors are living in. Uplifted by their witness to a righteous life, the kind of life we see in St. Francis, Dorothy Day, and many others.
These are some of their hopes. My hope is that through our giving––of boots and tarps, board games and rides, time and attention––we will once again realize the common space we share between Here and There and that our lives and theirs will be changed.
The Poetry of Advent
I was Mary once, writes Jericho Brown in his fierce, lovely poem Nativity, from a book of poems he calls The New Testament. Reading this poem can’t help make you ask: Were you Mary once, too? When was it, and what did it feel like? Has an angel ever come and told you something totally unexpected?
As we approach advent, I find myself thinking again about the ways we enter these old stories, and the ways we let them enter us newly. Every year, for me, they feel familiar and also strange, somewhere in between what I think I know and what I might still want to figure out.
For me, one of the ways to enter a text—and to savor the way it is working in my life— is to let myself explore it in a poem. Writing towards or dreaming away from liturgy can be a way to let stories nourish and grow fuller inside us, a way to practice our faith conversations, and to let ourselves dance between faith and doubt. We might take pleasure in departing from one line beautiful liturgy, or tell a faith story in detail. Who, for instance IS the thief in the night? What IS the armor of light? Where are the angels we find in the world?
This advent, I have the pleasure of offering an advent poetry class here at All Souls. In it we’ll look at the week’s liturgy, and also the ways that contemporary poets have found ways of inhabiting the Christmas tale. Together we’ll do a bit of meditative writing. Poetry can occasionally feel intimidating to some, but I promise that it’s not—all that’s required is a willingness to savor words and images, a willingness to daydream, and possibly a favorite pencil or pen.
It can be a joyful thing to make art in community. I hope you will join me. December 1, 8 and 15. 10:10 am.
Advent Ingathering 2019
In Advent, as we wait and prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we think about those who are in need and how we may share with them. Each Sunday, we invite you to bring gifts to church, where they are blessed and shared with those in need of care.
We continue to collect gifts for Options Recovery Services, BRAID Mission, and the Berkeley Food Pantry. And, in the face of a severe housing shortage, this year for the first time, we are also collecting gifts for the Here/There Community. We invite you to also consider how you may give of your time and talent with one of these groups. Thank you!
Here/There Community, a camp of homeless people and families who live in intentional community near the Ashby BART station
- Rain gear (jackets, boots) and warm clothing; men’s waterproof hiking boots (sizes 9-16)
- Socks and toiletries
- Weatherproof tarps (20×20, 40×40, 60×60), very good quality
- Sleeping bags, 30 degree rated
- Waterproof plastic storage bins (say 30” x 18” x 18”)
- REI gift cards
- Art supplies, including paint brushes
How you can help: Visit the camp to play board games. Contact Tess Taylor (email@example.com).
Options Recovery Services, providing treatment and support for men and women suffering from alcohol and drug dependency
- New socks for men and women
- Scarves and knit hats for adults
- Infant blankets
What you can do: Help the Options team deliver gift boxes with these items. Contact Lewis Maldonado (firstname.lastname@example.org).
BRAID Mission, providing community and holistic mentoring to youth in foster care
- Holiday card(s) with a message to foster youth, wishing them well and letting them know you are thinking of them
- Make a holiday card at home
- Gift cards (for example, Target or Amazon)
What you can do: Join us at the Advent Festival December 1, 4-6 p.m. and make a card(s) with your own special greeting for one or more of the youth—we are told every year how much they treasure these cards.
Berkeley Food Pantry, providing healthy food to those in need in Berkeley and Albany
- Peanut butter
- Canned soups, canned beans
- Gluten-free grains and pastas
- Low-sugar breakfast cereal
How you can help: Assist Maggie Cooke and her team in loading heavy boxes of donations into her car and/or yours, on Monday, December 23 around 11:30 a.m. Contact her at email@example.com.
Reclaiming Music?: The Second Annual Young Cecilia Series
This Friday, November 22, the Episcopal Church (together with other Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions) celebrates the feast of St. Cecilia, patron of music. Like last year, we are taking this opportunity to invite up-and-coming artists from the ranks of our parish youth to provide the Prelude on Sundays near this date. On December 8 and 22, solo performances before worship will allow several of our young people—Ronan Ereneta, Bennett Schreiner, and Eloise de Valpine—to stake a new claim on our musical life.
In connecting the offerings of these artists with St. Cecilia, we (not to mention the wider Church) must also grapple with the gendering of music in European history, which has shaped the construction and meaning of Cecilia’s image, as well as the lives of countless musicians. The stage was set for this even before her lifetime: while the musical pantheons of antiquity featured men like Orpheus and David, female musicality was portrayed as inherently dangerous (for details on the latter, look up “siren”).
Contemporary sources provide little witness to Cecilia’s life, but a fifth-century legend told that she refused to consummate her marriage to a pagan man on account of having made a vow of virginity to God, and was martyred after converting her new husband, his brother, and others. Cecilia became identified with music during the early modern period, probably due to an account that she had “sung in her heart to God” while organs played at her wedding: Renaissance artists began to depict her alongside the organ, lute, or other instruments; a music school was named after her in Rome in 1584; and music festivals were organized around her feast day, most famously in England in the decades around 1700.
These were periods in which music was frequently alleged (largely by male writers) to feminize men if not properly approached and managed; musical performance by women was said to pose threats of various kinds to social health and well-being (the “siren” phenomenon in a new form). But since Cecilia was a woman musician authorized as virtuous by the Church itself—one whose reported virginity had figured into the story of her martyrdom, no less—her image was exploited, often by taking advantage of these intertwined dynamics of gender and virtue. Musicologist Suzanne Aspden has shown that the composer George Frederic Handel, in the process of establishing a firmly British cultural identity, aligned himself in one instance with this impeccably Christian Cecilia (her Christian virtue being coded as more British), rather than the pagan musical figure Timotheus (who was coded as foreign).
More broadly, in a 1994 collection entitled Cecilia Reclaimed, musicologists Susan C. Cook and Judy S. Tsou argued that while Cecilian symbolism has been a source of inspiration for feminist scholars, the image of Cecilia has developed by means of the long-standing patriarchal tendency to identify music with femininity (a subject on which scholars have written extensively in the last thirty years). Cook and Tsou proposed that “Cecilia was in many ways the patronized saint of music,” a figure who, by being portrayed as a performer but not as a creator, “presented cultural notions of acceptable female practice; she played the organ, but she did not compose organ symphonies.” Indeed, boundaries of “acceptable female practice” have led to women composers being erased from music history at every turn (which was one of the reasons why All Souls created its Women Composers Initiative). And when this division of creative labor into composition and performance has occluded the creative agency of women performers, it, too, has contributed to misogyny in our musical cultures.
Yet, facing the fact that oppressive forces have shaped Cecilia’s image, we can do the opposite of erasing her. We can name those forces, and use the occasion on which we recognize her spiritual patronage as inspiration for a new kind of inclusion in our musical practice. If feminist scholars have reclaimed Cecilia by laying bare the ways in which patriarchal systems have molded the meanings of her figure, then our youth might reclaim music by making it with the very attitude for which the Episcopal Church praises the saint (in its publication Holy Women, Holy Men): a passion for glorifying God.
In church over the coming weeks, you’ll see that passion in action!
Thanksgiving Day Service @ St. Mark’s
This year the people of St. Mark’s, Berkeley, right across campus on Bancroft, have invited people from All Souls to join them for their Thanksgiving Day service. Given that, we will not have a Thanksgiving Eucharist at All Souls. Beginning at 11:30a in Lions Hall, the Eucharist will be followed by a Thanksgiving meal. Those who wish to join in the meal are asked to bring a side dish to share.
And, for those of us who are students, the Hillside Club would like to invite you to join in their Thanksgiving feast on Tuesday, November 26th at 6:30pm. The invitation is specifically for students who would be going home for the holiday, or in financial need. More information can be found here: https://bhcweb.wixsite.com/hillsideclub/ucstudentdinner
Invite three friends to join you at All Souls Sunday afternoon, December 1st at 4:00 pm for our Advent Festival! We’ll start with a short and spirited service of music stories, and poetry, designed with kids in mind. Then we dive into the festivities of making Advent wreaths, (bring a wreath form if you still have it from last year!) ornaments, Cards of Hope for foster youth with Braid Mission, and gift boxes for Options Recovery. We’ll sing around a fire in the courtyard and eat treats. Bring some cookies and cider or wine, bring your longing for light in the darkness, bring friends and be family.
Stephen Ministry Training
Caring through listening? Please join the Stephen Leaders for an information session on November 24th at 12:30p in the Chapel. We would love to tell you more about the process of becoming a Stephen Minister at All Souls. Or, contact Christina Robinson
Stewardship Campaign Update
The 2020 pledge campaign has received 167 pledges! Based on current projections, the number of and the total of pledges is tracking to similar levels as last year. As you know, last year we made material progress on our goal of achieving a sustainable budget with nearly 200 pledges. This year we aspire to have well over 200 pledges and to continue to close our financial gap.
This year’s theme: Freed by love, Free to give, reminds us of the liberating work of Christ in our lives. It is through Christ that we find stability within the changes and chances of our lives, including our financial lives.
If you haven’t yet pledged, please consider taking the time to pledge as you read this, using this link: http://www.allsoulsparish.org/pledge. Alternatively, you can fill out a pledge card, which are found in the narthex or email Maggie Cooke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—The Stewardship Committee
Climate Justice Series
This week, please join us during the formation hour as we welcome Joanna Macy, systems thinker and educator—and finish off our series “Caring for Creation: Hope & Action for Climate Justice.” Joanna Macy will speak on “Building Active Hope through Action.” Parish Hall, 10:10 – 11:05 a.m.
Dreaming of a World Unknown
St. Mark’s is hosting a speaker series exploring justice, creativity, and the possibility of creating a better life and world. The next talk is Thursday evening, December 5th, at 6:30 (for candlelit music with choir) and 7:15 for the talk. The topic for the 5th is “Queer Abstraction” with Mr. Jared Ledesma, from the Des Moines Art Center. This talk is based on the award winning art show by the same name, and explores how queer artists have created a visual language of liberation and hope. All are welcome. Event is free!