I’m walking west on Pine in Philly, rear view university campus, wandering really, pretty lost & quite alone. No place home. My car – the green VW bus – my only refuge. Thin sleeping bag on the plywood sheet in the back. Vulnerable in a thousand ways that everyone can see.
Driving and driving around the city for days and days. A hostile world of my own design, stranger in a strange land.
Summertime’s hot damp dark, a soft breeze in the leaves, sidewalk concrete lifted by gnarly oak roots, tripping me barefoot along Pine Street. No home, just the bus parked blocks back. Going nowhere.
Then… music from a church beyond a broad lawn behind a short stone wall running along the sidewalk. Opening in the walland a flagstone path to the open church door. Horns, voices, ecstatic song, flashing lights, drums, and dancers festooned in golden glitter robes. I can see them, tiny in the distance, now drawing me through the door.
Jazz musicians, saxes, trombones, art priests, inspired throb, the packed-in crowd. In the center at a pair of keyboards, the leader in a sunburst crown, total confidence flailing and sweeping the keys, whipping the band with otherworld energy. Two women dancing, weaving the beat across the stage. Huge smiles, glory of free sounds, glory of art.Cosmic release! Outer space is the place! “Who is this?” “Sun Ra!”
Sudden free passage into the whole universe, Relax, free to move, finally a home in the sanctuary of music, art, love.
We are entangled in prisons of danger, foreignness, fear. Some imposed from without, some invented from within. In each case, prison is a nightmare, and freedom is a dream, which we may not wake to. Still, we wander, searching for the promise of a borderline where we might cross over, be accepted, know ourselves and be known.
Featured image above top: Alan Crichton,
“Found in the Forest” 2012
62” x 62” Charcoal on paper