Saturday, December 12, 2009

Copenhagen: Arrival Part Two. The Church.

It’s late, way too late for us, we who have been traveling for twenty three hours and who’s biological clocks believe that its close to dawn, rather than a misty and cold evening.  Our dinner weighs heavy in our bellies, the first real food we’ve eaten, and walking feels good in spite of how exhausted we are.  Besides, Copenhagen almost feels like an overgrown and even-more-charming Santa’s village, fully dark at four o’clock, streets crowded with bikes and pedestrians but only a car or two, who’s headlights seem out of place among the crumbling stone buildings and cobbled brick streets.  So many bikes!  They whiz by in breathtaking bunches, swarm on sidewalks, throng in the streets like tribes.  

Beyond its natural charm, Copenhagen has put on its eco-finest for the Climate Summit, with signs that read “Hopenhagen” and catchphrases urging a powerful change at the conference everywhere and large, beautiful demonstrations of alternative energies. It’s tempting to feel like we’ve stumbled into utopia.  The occasional sirens and blue-lit “Politico” cars rushing by, followed by ambulances, reveal that there is also something fierce beneath the sweet surface.  Most of the people here seem oblivious to it, wandering with hearty druken cheer down the cold street, enjoying their Friday night.  There is a man playing bagpipes in front of an Irish bar for tips, surrounded by pale-skinned, slight Danish women, and a motley crew of rowdy young men hauling Christmas trees down the street and swinging them at each other. It feels sweet to be surrounded by their liveliness, even though my exhaustion makes it hard for me to feel much of my own.

Jason and I follow a trail of golden lights to an old church, one that has sat here for hundreds of years, remaining quietly stately and powerful even as the cosmetic stores and clothing boutiques and bars edge ever closer, their neon signs whispering that someday the candles that light our way will be forgotten, overpowered. The candles, flickering magically in the dark night, seem uninterested in such mundane matters.   We follow them through the wide double doors and into the ancient chapel to an altar to Jesus, who’s head is ringed like Buddha’s with the golden halo of enlightenment.  Without a word, we both kneel down, breath deeply, and begin to pray to him and to Mary Magdelene, who seems to have been forgotten in this church but who’s presence is so intimately, innately tied to his.   I’ve never prayed to Jesus before, but here in this ancient church, I can feel his power and purity and the way he inspires so many to desire goodness and justice.  It simply feels right.  

We ask them to come into us, to bring compassion and forgiveness and strength in the face of adversity to us during this week.  And love.  The love they felt for one another, the love they feel for their people, who are the people we will be in the streets with during the next seven days and the police as well, and many of the politicians and policy makers… Throughout the last couple of hundred years, so many have called upon these two loving bodhisattvas during their deepest times of need.   Well, this is the eleventh hour and we must all come together to solve the troubles that we face – that’s what this summit, in its essence, is about.  Even good Jewitch girls like myself.  I’ve had issues in the past with the things that Jesus’s followers have done in his name, but now, in this time, I feel peace and love and unity praying in his church.

After our prayers to Mary Magdelene and Jesus slowly ebb to silence, we get to our feet and I slip a candle from a bucket near the altar into my purse, getting an intuitive hit that at some point this week it will become a major part of our work.  Then we wander back to our hostel and make our way up the stairs to our room, which is a dorm we’re sharing with four other activists: a man from Germany, one from Canada, one from England, and one who slept the whole time.  All men, except for me.  The German fellow, who never told us his name, talked about working with the Black Bloc in Europe and gave us an anti-fascist flag from his homeland, “because you came all the way from America.”

“Fighting the nazis and fighting the corporations isn’t really that different,” he says. “Perhaps the corporations have a nicer face, but really, they do the same things – they kill so many, they suppress our freedom, the turn harshly against you if you try to speak out against them.   We still have so many problems with fascists, even today.  You still have problems with racism.  It’s all the same.”

I tried to resist writing tonight, but its simply too exciting and too magical to put it off. We haven’t “officially” begun, and yet, its all happening.  So much so, that I simply must go to sleep.  I’m filled with curiosity and excitement for what lays ahead… and I really want to be over my jetlag so that I can be present for it.

Lotsa love,

1 comment:

  1. Re >>Even good Jewitch girls like myself. I’ve had issues in the past with the things that Jesus’s followers have done in his name, but now, in this time, I feel peace and love and unity praying in his church.<<

    Rivka: Not to think Mary of Magdala WASN'T a good Jewitch girl like yourself...or your Mom? Migdal = Tower in Hebrew. Just one of those little inconvenient truths people tend to forget--most people do anyway. She's an old friend of mine, and I'll have a lot more to say about her later on--and about some of her other friends I happen to know.

    I'm going to spread this one far and wide tomorrow. Not tonight, though--I'm tired myself! Love, Mom