About 11:30 am I was driving south on I-5 to Seattle following a Milky Way truck. It was one of those double tank trucks pulled by a cab. If “Milky Way” had not been prominently displayed on the tanks I would have thought I was following a petroleum rig.
From a symbolic perspective I was happy to be following the Milky Way tanks until I decided the driver was not going fast enough. As I pushed my throttle and drove past the Milky Way tanks, I thought about the day ahead.
Virginia said to dress “snappy” for the African American festival at 1:00 pm. Gary and I were going to meet Virginia and her daughter, AO, at the festival after they got out of church. Maybe “snappy” isn’t the exact word she used. But it was something like that. (It is an open question as to whether Virginia and I agree on a definition of “snappy” as it turned out we never got together today.)
After the festival the plan was to go to a barbecue sponsored by “Our Washington”. The last part of the day’s plan was to meet up with Michelle and Karen and drive to I-5 overpasses to wave signs in hopes of getting votes on Monday and Tuesday. This also did not happen.
So what did happen was this. Gary and I went to 23rd and Union and discovered the festival was not there. There was an empty lot with a sign on a fence which seemed like it might be referring to a festival. But no people were there.
Kitty corner from the vacant lot was a Mediterranean restaurant, which used to be one of my two favorite places to get Philly’s Best sandwiches in Seattle. Unfortunately, the owner had been murdered several years ago. Even though I did not know this man, I felt his loss. Not in the same way as would family and friends; but as a member of a community who had frequented his business and enjoyed the food his business served.
Gary ordered a lamb gyro. I ordered an eggplant gyro, extra spicy. (At least that is what I think I ordered.) The food was tasty. We should have waited a little longer before we left for the festival, which we had learned by then was at Jutkins Park.
By the time we got to Jackson Street my stomach was signaling I needed to find a bathroom. I was driving us around looking for a bathroom when Gary noticed a park bathroom by the Pratt Art Institute. Fortunately, there was parking right across the street. So I pulled over, got out of the car, started toward the bathroom, and noticed two men were asking what I was doing parking there.
I looked up and said I was going to use the bathroom. They said I couldn’t park there because church was in session. I gained perspective of where I was. The two men were standing just outside the open doors of a church.
My stomach churned. I walked toward them as I pulled two cards out of my pocket. I said “I’m running for the Supreme Court and really need to use a bathroom. Could I use your bathroom?” One of them was not too keen on the idea. The other told me to go round the side of the building where there was a door to the basement.
I asked Gary to drive around until I came back.
When I got back, there was another man on the porch. He was an electrician. He was not enamored with lawyers. We had a brief discussion about how lawyers could serve God and defend persons who had committed the most offensive of sins.
I used the snippet of theology I referred to in an earlier blog: “Render unto Caesar’s that which is Caesars and unto God that which is Gods.” I explained that everyone had a right to representation under our human laws. He agreed to an extent. I wanted to know more about what the Caesar snippet meant.
I waited outside the church for Gary to return. I wondered where he could be when I discovered him parked right across the street from me. I walked to the car and we drove into the parking lot for a school. We drove up to a man who was watering his lawn and asked if he knew where the festival was.
Suddenly there was thunderous noise from the blue angels which prevented me from hearing his answer. The noise disappeared as suddenly as it occurred.
Then I heard him tell me the festival was past the parking lot, approximately two football fields away. We headed toward the park.
It was hot. My snappy clothes were wet.
The name of the festival was Umojafest.
I learned while writing this blog that “Ja” means God in Rasta.
I went to several booths. The first booth I saw had woven pictorial art made of colorful threads. I immediately wanted to talk to the artist about commissioning a piece of called “threadbare common law”. (I already have a dip- tik called “arbitrary and capricious”, a magnificently created collage by Anne Amerson.) But the guy at the booth was busy with someone else, so I left.
I moved on to the next booth: “Seattle Solidarity Network”. The young man I talked with gave me a flyer, which explained: “We use collective direct action to fight employers and landlords who are pocketing our wages, refusing repairs, stealing deposits, or otherwise cheating or abusing one or more of us”. The young man said his group was working with another group to help people faced with foreclosures.
The next booth belonged to Nicole Lanier Montez, a writer from Maryland. Even though she was not a Washington voter, I bought her latest book “Sleepwaker”. I am glad I did. I like poetry.
Then I went to a booth in the center of the grounds, where people were advocating for the impoverished.
The music had been stopped while the Blue Angels flew over for what seemed like hours. Then they left. The church, which had sponsored the event, regained the park. They made clear, as they should, that this event was about God’s greatness. I heard their prayers and songs.
At some point I looked at my phone and saw a text from Virginia that said she was there with AO. But the text had come a half hour or so before I saw it. I called Virg. She was on her way to the Our Washington event.
I looked at the time and saw that the Our Washington event would soon be over. I asked Gary if he wanted to go. He said, “not really into it” and I agreed.
We drove over to Gary’s house. I was tired and my stomach was still bothering me. I asked if I could nap there and promptly fell asleep.
I usually do not dream or if I do, do not remember most dreams. I had a very vivid dream this afternoon, which I expected would be a central part of my blog. But now hours later I just remember unknown faces and places, which have a peculiar familiarity as if I’d dreamed about them before.
I called Alex. I’ve talked about Alex on other Sunday blogs. Alex, now in his seventies, used to be a familiar figure on the Seattle waterfront as a long term officer of Local 19 ILWU. Alex asked me if I had gotten his message from about three days ago. I said “no, but I am often so busy I don’t get them all.”
Part of our discussion is not appropriate to discuss on this blog. However, I was particularly moved when he told me that he had told the Executive Committee that I was fearless in defending peoples’ rights. It did not matter whether it was the Department of Labor or the state Alex said he knew if I thought something was right, I would fight for it until the end.
I agreed with Alex about this after having brought two mandamus actions against the Ninth Circuit; one against 3 superior court judges and other actions against the Secretaries of State, Commerce, and the Interior, the Department of Labor, etc.
As we talked it became clear that Alex cared as much about me winning this race for the Supreme Court as I did. I counseled him that it was all in God’s hands, which is precisely where it should be. His will be done, not ours.
So as I was driving back to Arlington to write this blog I pondered my conversation with the man on the church steps. Should God’s word prevail over laws created by human beings?
Of course, the first problem with that question is it presumes that God’s word exists and can be interpreted by us mortals. This is a questionable presumption given that human judges have trouble interpreting human laws, let alone God’s word.
And there seem to be so many of God’s words stated in different religions that they contradict one another. Should a woman not wearing a scarf be criminalized? Should the law prevent persons of the same sex from making love?
The more I thought, the more convinced I was that our separation of church and state is necessary lest liberties and property be surrendered based on some other mortal’s interpretation of God’s word.
God is the ruler of everything. If someone can presume to speak for God then there is no Constitution or other thing to restrain their actions against other people.
So at the conclusion of my day, I decided that I needed to know more about what belongs to Caesar.
I learned that the meaning of Jesus’ famous quote about Caesar does not necessarily resolve the issue as to whom the Christian owes allegiance.