I attend worship on Sunday’s at Luther Memorial Church, the church you may recall from my last essay that looks out onto Thomas Circle and the Weston Hotel, which is the focal point of my common place. I was eager to see what words of wisdom my Pastor had to offer after the events of last Tuesday, looking to my community leader as so many do for direction. Or perhaps I was just looking for a sanctuary to stay in for a little while. She spoke for a time on scripture and God’s love, the congregation visibly sitting in strained anticipation for her to mention the election. She noticed this and paused. “I was writing this sermon last night while my husband was out for a walk; we live about a block and half from here in the Parish.” She told us, tone more conversational than its previous formality. “My husband comes back and tells me that I simply must walk over to Thomas Circle and see what was happening. Grudgingly I got up, put down the cat, and walked with him back to the circle. To my astonishment I saw traffic shut down, and hundreds of people, noisy, rowdy, passionate people, walking past, towards downtown. I was amazed. I looked to our statue of Martin [Luther] and I like to think that he was getting up to walk down with them.”
You see, there is a statue in front of our church of founder Martin Luther, he is stepping off of a pedestal still in the garb of a Catholic monk, his right hand in a fist held on top of a German Bible in his left. A German Bible. It being a German Bible is significant because among other reasons Martin Luther was kicked out of the Catholic Church for translating the Bible from Latin to German, for all people to read. In front of my church is the depiction of a man that turned from the constraints and governance of the Catholic system, he willingly stepped off of the pedestal that they had placed themselves on and descended into the people, translating the Holy Book so that they would be able to read it, preaching forgiveness of sin by the grace of God, ministering to the poor who could not pay their indulgences, so that they too may know the word of God and know that they are saved. In a society where class comes first this idea was a radical one. I have learned since I was a child that the founder of my church was a rebel and a radical.
The founder of my church was a revolutionary.
My Pastor said nothing else on the election, but her meaning was clear enough to all of us in the congregation. My homeboy Luther would’ve been walking to Trump Tower with those people, he would’ve been singing in Lafayette Park hand in hand with his neighbors, he would be chanting in New York with his brothers and sisters.
I realized then that this was what really circulated in my commonplace. Change, upset, despicable acts and moral ones, prayer and sin, prosperity and poverty. Revolution. It’s what circulates in this city. Everyplace I’ve gone I feel as if I’m in the next step in what will be history. The air I breathe is infused with a sense of action, the pavement on which I tread is imbued with more history than a Texas public school’s history book, the monuments in who’s shadow I walk reign with gravitas of who they represent, and the reminder of by whom they were built. People don’t come to this city to stay mediocre, people come here to become something better, to alter the world around us, to gain power, to use their voice, to change the way the game is played. This is what circulates in my environment. Not some website made by an overpaid designer, but the very reason that people look at that website. The idea that this is where everything is happening, the uniqueness that is this city, the morals that put Martin Luther on the pedestal. That is what people are searching for when they come here. Acknowledgement of the past, the hustle of the present, and the hope for the future.
– Makenzie Gold Quiros