Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Photo by Wally Moyer.

You can go here for more info about the MLK Day of Service.

I’ve heard that Philadelphia has the most well-attended Day of Service in the nation—go us!

This year, it was especially festive for me because it was the first one that I’ve gotten to spend with Amy. We got up early and went over to my church, the Unitarian Society of Germantown. They had about 20 projects going on, including making meals for the homeless, caring for historic buildings, letter-writing for GLBT rights, and collecting supplies for a school that just burned down.

After we signed up for our project, we joined the stream of people going into the church’s sanctuary. It was a moving place to be, because MLK himself spoke from our pulpit back in the days. There’s a plaque and everything. If Amy and I look superserious in the above picture, it’s because we got real chocked up when we learned that Martin and Coretta met in a Unitarian congregation. (Not sure why that would choke up Amy, who’s not Unitarian—I firmly support her right to stay home on Sundays and watch Caprica and other shows that I don’t want to watch.)

The church was full to the edges, with Sesame Street levels of diversity. As I sang along to “We are standing on the side of love,” I felt the same measured optimism that I felt at the Rally to Restore Sanity: this is a really good thing to do, and I’m so glad to be in this crowd, but I hope everybody’s still gonna be working on this tomorrow. It’s beautiful, but it isn’t a solution in and of itself.

The project that Amy and I chose was helping to clean Johnson House, which I used to walk past every day on the way to work. The House’s website says it’s “Philadelphia’s only accessible and intact stop on the Underground Railroad. The Johnson House was home to three generations of Quaker families who worked to abolish slavery and improve living conditions for freed African Americans.”
Cleaning those walls was a little tiny thing, but it was satisfying. It made me happy to think that even in the midst of the nightmare of slavery, families were still reaching out to help other families. It made me want to recommit to being as loving and welcoming as I can be.

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