Once again this year I joined the Rev. Paul Gaffney and the folks at Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy for a Thanksgiving Eve celebration with the homeless population of our city. A significant part of the ceremony is the gathering of offerings -- primarily sleeping bags and socks -- and blessing them for their use in keeping people warm and cozy through the cold, wet winter months.
Some of the ritual contributions, mostly drumming, poetry, and singing, came from the homeless population. I've come to know a few of them over the years and to appreciate their talents. In particular, we have enjoyed the singing of Cup Bach Pham, a woman from Southeast Asia.
Among the religious leaders who participated were Fr. John Balleza, the new priest at Church of St. Raphael and Mission San Rafael Arcangel; Dr. Laura Stivers, a religion and philosophy professor at Dominican University; Qayyum Johnson from Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center, the Rev. Dr. Curran Reichert of Community Congregational Church of Tiburon (site of the 9/11 Contemplative Service for Peace reported on earlier); the Rev. Dr. Liza Klein of San Rafael First United Methodist Church; and others.
Most touching, to me, was a personal story told by Clair Mikowski from Congregation Rodef Shalom about her parents' immigration to this country and some of the things her mother taught her. She delivered this story on the day her mother would have turned 100 years old.
Among the musical offerings, Taneen, from the International Association of Sufism, sang an evocative sacred chant. They have performed at MIC events in the past and I always look forward to hearing them.
Corby usually accompanies me to this annual event and sings with me. This year he was away for the holiday. I was fortunate in that my friend Gwion from North Bay Reclaiming joined me as a Pagan presence. I told an abbreviated version of the story of the abduction of Kore, later called Persephone, by Hades and the searching and grief of her mother, Demeter. It's a familiar story to many non-Pagans, and since we are celebrating harvest and the fruits of field, orchard, and barnyard, it seems perfect. We followed the brief story by singing "Demeter's Song" by Starhawk. I love the song. I love the melody and harmonies. And I especially love the theology, or worldview, it illustrates.
After the service we moved to a room nearby to share seasonal comestibles.