Monday, October 24, 2005

Paving The Way

Paving the Way--Days 9 & 10

October 24, 2005

Dear Friends,

No excuses for not writing yesterday.  We set out marching about 9:30 – 10:00am on the outskirts of Philadelphia.  Eight miles and three hours later, we were circling City Hall in Center City, done for the day.  Instead of blogging, I found a sports bar and got in two football games.  “Fight back; fight AIDS; go Eagles!”  It was a gay sports bar, so there were green pompoms at each seat.  

Exhaustion had finally caught up with me when I returned to our urban campsite.  Appropriate for a church basement, I slept the sleep of the righteous.  (I have noticed that our snorers have settled down.  Some of them seem to have stopped snoring all together.  The others have synchronized, snoring in four-part harmony.)

We had a slow start this morning.  It was all of a two block march to our rally site.  Our host, Charlene, who had marched with us for the last two days, spoke powerfully, for the first time in public about her experience of invisibility as a transgendered person living with AIDS.  When she finished speaking, we chanted, “trans people count; end AIDS now!”  Charlene was followed by her boss, Yoshiaki Yamasaki.  He had tears in his eyes as he talked about the transformation his organization had experienced participating in the Campaign.  

While the rally was small in numbers, we left feeling a powerful sense of purpose.  Marching the Baltimore Pike to Chester, we encountered lots of young people wanting to know what we were doing. Honks of recognition made it clear that word of our journey had spread.  The rain threatened but held back all day as we marched the twelve miles to Chester.  Only when we got into the town limits did the rain start to fall, gentle, and then heavier for the last half our, marching through bleak neighborhoods, in the dark and in the rain.

Bethany Baptist Church was a welcome beacon.  The children’s choir was rehearsing in the sanctuary.  Downstairs was a hearty spread of roast chicken, roast potatoes, green beans, several varieties of cake, and sweet tea and lemonade.  A dozen men and women hung around late to make sure we were satiated and comfortable.  Each one blessed us as he or she parted, promising continued prayers for our journey.

Increasingly as this journey has unfolded, I have become less concerned with numbers and more concerned with how deeply people’s hearts are touched.  I know that those of us who are making this journey are already experiencing changed lives.  I pray the people we encounter along the way are experiencing changed lives as well.

I have thrilled to see each of the other caravans starting out their journeys.  I pray that each of your pilgrimages is as filled with adventure and reason for gratitude as we have found with Paving the Way.

Much love,

Charles King

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