Blankets at the Cathedral
Yesterday was a great day.
The Memorial Blanket Project (www.memorialblanket.org) received the support of the National Cathedral (www.Cathedral.org) in our effort to raise awareness around the issue of homelessness in our nation. We We laid down 95 blankets on Walker Court in front of the main entrance of the Cathedral.
This is just a fraction of the blankets that we will be laying down on the west lawn of the US Capitol next Wednesday. Yesterday’s event was meant to be a dry run for next week, a collection point (We received 27 additional blankets and quilts thanks to the good folks from the Cathedral), and an opportunity to generate some press attention for what will be happening next week.
The importance of the National Cathedral can’t be understated. The symbolism of what it stands for is unique and unlike any other church in America. This is a church where US President’s have had their funerals. This is where events of national significance have taken place. And here we were having the backing of this place and what it stands for lending its support and voice behind what the Memorial Blanket Project is trying to accomplish.
Everyone from the National Cathedral from the Dean of the Cathedral to the folks at the welcome desk wrapped us with a blanket of hospitality and care. This wasn’t just some event happening on the front step of the Cathedral, this was something they were getting behind and supporting. They came out to help lay out blankets and when it was time, they helped up pick them up. They spent time with us through out the event. I want to offer a special thank you the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the Rev. Canon Leonard Hamlin, Sr, – The Canon Missioner and Minister of Equity & Inclusion, as well as Janae Barber, and Carol Cropp. All of these individuals took time over the last couple of months to be so very helpful in making yesterday happen. I am very grateful for each of them as well as so many other people who are too numerous to name here.
As a Lutheran pastor, I’m struck by the fact that we had 95 blankets and quilts. It’s ironic actually that we would have 95. A month and a half ago, we were remembering Reformation Sunday and Martin Luther and his 95 theses at a different church. 95 statements intended to raise questions and cause a debate within the church. In a similar way, these 95 blankets and quilts are intended to raise questions and cause a debate, make a stir, unsettle the comfortable status quo in our nation when it comes to homelessness. This is our 95 theses. And while our statements don’t have words on them, each blanket and quilt carries a message quite clearly.
Martin Luther wanted to cause a debate with the larger church. We want to have a conversation with the country. And so we are taking these 95 blankets and quilts, along with so many others that are being sent from across the country, to the west lawn of the US Capitol next week. We’re taking them there and laying them out on the lawn. We’re laying them out for all to see. To see the statements that are being made from all over this nation to the people who work in the most powerful building in the country. It’s our moment to speak loudly without any words. Every blanket sends a message. Every blanket represents a person and a family – a story. Every blanket represents something that power has a difficult understanding – love and care for others.
Every blanket represents something stated so very clearly – It’s the message that was there at the Cathedral yesterday. That we are to show hospitality to one another. That’s the aspiration of America. That’s the aspiration of every religion there is. That’s the aspiration of just plain decency of humanity too. From a theological perspective, we are called to love our neighbor and the blankets remind us of this. From a human perspective, we a reminded of the humanity of each person and how each person has value and worth and a story.
Next week, we come back to DC to lay out the blankets on the west lawn of the US Capitol. We’ll have a full day of podcast interviews with agencies and public figures, politicians and religious folks. And through it all, the blankets will be silently laying there, speaking the loudest. Just waiting. Waiting to go to the people and families, and babies, and individuals who need them the most – the people they were all created for. And they go to them. And those people will be wrapped in love. They will hear the message loud and clear, even if no one else does. But here’s what I know – lots of people are hearing the message. Yesterday was just the start. Next week isn’t the end either.