Spirit Safari day 2, Helms’ notes

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.

On Tuesday morning, we gathered and talked about grief and our response.  The discussion led to a conversation about what to do with grief, how to turn grief into something that makes a positive difference.  We pledged to look for signs of create, pray, and welcome as we journeyed throughout the day and to also pay close attention at the 9/11 memorial to the ways in which grief has been expressed.

13 years after September 11th and I’ve never been to ground zero.  I tend to avoid places like this.  My heart gets wrenched all too easily at the sight of pain and destruction.  We debated whether we’d take the youth to this memorial site.  We were concerned that the site would be overly nationalistic or preachy.  It was none of these things.  I’m glad we chose to go.

The mission statement of the 9/11 memorial is, in short:

Remember and honor.  Respect this place made sacred through tragic loss.  Recognize endurance.  Spirit reawakened, reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance, and intolerance.

The questions I pondered while I was there:  How/What elements lead to inspire here?  What makes this place sacred?  How can some of what we see here transfer to our own neighborhood?

And my notes from the memorial:  sacred location, falling water into a void, solid rock, water, trees, inscriptions, names, clean, respected, relationships to one another, depth, large, homage, movement, nursing/tending the tree.  What will take root here?

After visiting the 9/11 memorial, we visited Charlotte’s Place, a community center in the heart of Wall Street.  We were welcomed by Booker, a woman who greeted us warmly and told us about the hospitality and mission of Charlotte’s Place. Various kinds of people gather at Charlotte’s Place to rest, visit, work, or participate in a program.  The space is bright and clean, very welcoming.  It is filled with artwork and invitations to engage.  At Charlotte’s Place, you’ll find free wifi, a small kitchenette, and bathrooms.  What makes Charlotte’s Place different?  They aren’t selling anything- even though they are at prime real estate in Manhattan.  They are welcoming all.  It isn’t about religion- it is sponsored by a church, but the activities and gathering space does not focus on religious practice.  What makes Charlotte’s place different than a library or a recreation center? The people plant themselves there to be a welcoming presence and to offer hospitality to all.  There’s no agenda other than welcome and connectivity.

Charlotte’s place is about to go through a big transition.  They will be moving locations and Trinity Church, which sponsors Charlotte’s Place, will become more involved in the next steps and visioning.  Prayers for the people of Charlotte’s Place, please.

After Charlotte’s Place, we toured Trinity Church.  The church was beautifully ornate.  Some of the prayer stations reminded the youth of our own 24/7 Prayer Room.

In the afternoon, we went back to the church to rest and eat dinner.  After dinner, we went back out.  It was raining, so our plans of riding the Staten Island Ferry were delayed.  Instead, we went to Grand Central Station and then to Times Square.  Before we turned in for the night, Julie Carr treated everyone to Holey Cream– donut/ice cream sandwiches. Whoa!