From The Asian Reporter, V27, #3 (February 6, 2017), page 7.
Three faces of River City
And the work ahead of us all
Friday, January 20, 2017 was the 44th peaceful transition of presidential
power for our United States of America. In response to Donald J. Trump’s
inauguration, protesting Portlanders filled Pioneer Courthouse Square. I saw a
small Magic-Markered sign that read "Take Care of Each Other." It bobbed just
above our heads. I also saw a black-hooded skull bigger than our youngest
brother’s double-doored Frigidaire. Really big. Huge. It loomed and stared over
us. Its skeletal knuckles, fingers, and killer nails, longer than me, hung to
its left and right. Acrid turmoil filled the air.
Beginning early Saturday morning, women and girls, their men and boys, began
pooling under and around Naito Parkway’s bridges. More and more, then still more
and more poured in from all over Oregon. While Pacific Northwest rain poured on
us. Portland’s Women’s March filled 44 downtown blocks, followed by another 44
blocks worth of marchers, then another. All of them, concerned about our nation.
Everyone, content among each other. Like familia. Wellbeing filled what little
space remained between us.
On January 22 — on a Sunday, on that reflective day just ahead of everybody’s
next big-city workweek — rabbi and cantor Cahana filled their heavenly domed
Beth Israel synagogue with Christian and Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddha
sanga Portlanders. After prayer and inspiration, everyone walked wordless across
rushed Burnside street; we walked silently by our Timbers’ stadium and our
stately Governor Hotel; we waited patiently for Maya Taqueria’s corner crosswalk
signal — infectious mariachi raised our chins and lightened our steps. We passed
empty Director Park then walked slowly onto Portland’s Living Room. Pioneer
We filled that place, our silence did. Our little candles did too. This
silence rose from red brick underfoot into our azure evening sky, then it rose
on and on through the chill of airless space. And maybe someday, some several
million light years from here and now, our silenced and humbled hearts will
reach what both wayward physicists and our simply faithful call the face of God.
Back down here — as we ended our expression of trust in pretty cool Portland,
in anxious America, in our achy little earth — the Reverend Dr. Héctor E. López
was trying to explain something tough to capture by local TV news cameras. No
creepy skeletons or scary bottle throwers, no lovely mothers or pink-pussycat
"Some people think silence is not appropriate," Dr. López said, "because it
looks like inaction."
"But, oh no. No-no-no," he smiled, wagging his well-worn finger, correcting
us like a Mexican abuelo, like a Moroccan jaddi or an Eire grandpa. "Silence is
an interstitial moment before action. A time to reflect on the challenge we have
been given in 2017."
Silence is necessary. Silence allows sacredness to seep in. The sacredness of
us in this place, this confluence of our generous river matriarchs Willamette
and Columbia. These shores of chocolate soil, stewarded by 140 centuries of
native families living and loving here.
Silence is necessary, before we rise and breakfast among those people we
love. Then let’s get to work. The work of community building in all the ways,
all us very different and very dear Portlanders, do this work. Our work.
* * *
Nota: For this third demonstration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s
Beloved Community, for this expression of how Portlanders are, terima kasih
banjaak (I offer our love to you): Rev. Dr. Héctor E. López and pastor Lynne
Smouse López of Ainsworth United Church of Christ; to Br. Wajdi Said, Muslim
Educational Trust co-founder and president; to Janet Musgrove Elfers, executive
director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon; to Rev. Michael Ellick of First
Congregational United Church of Christ; to pastor. E.D. Mondainé of Celebration
Tabernacle; and of course to senior rabbi Michael Z. Cahana and senior cantor
Ida Rae Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel.
Read the current issue of The Asian Reporter in its entirety!
Go to <www.asianreporter.com/completepaper.htm>!
Opinions expressed in this newspaper are those of the
authors and not necessarily those of this publication.