The Work Of The People | The Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson, Rector

05.3.24 | Celebration, Community, International, Pulpit Posts, World

The photo below is a new mural that has just been unveiled on Riker’s Island. It is the collaborative vision of detainees, artists and arts therapists. Moving the vision from aspiration to reality was a collaborative process, too: detainees of all ethnicities and genders helped paint the work, which hangs outside of the spot where people who are being released emerge into freedom.

If you look closely, you can see that diversity represented in the people portrayed. You can also see the concrete block that represents the Rikers jail house (far right), and the broken shackles under the walkway and on the left—the path of liberation and the destiny of those on the journey. And then, woven into the bright colors and the flowers, the birds, the musical notes and the sunshine are words representing the values surrounding the people and accompanying them along their way: courage, self-love, hope, dreams, support, job, resilience, family. One person is carrying a pail with a peace sign on it. Another is holding a heart.

My spouse Charlie works at Riker’s Island with some of the artists responsible for this beautiful creation. He took this picture, and when he showed it to me I was struck by how (in both its current context and beyond), the mural is a liturgical manifestation. Liturgy means “the work of the people,” and it is certainly that. If the goal of the people’s work is to strengthen the community to go forth, it represents that, too.

And while this mural emerges from a specific time and place, like all great art it is also universal. The energy from the gifts spelled out here strengthens all of us, no matter where we are from or where we are going. The sustaining grace of the relational commitments portrayed brings joy and color to our world. Resilience is infectious. Hope and commitment defy boundaries.

Onward, together!

 

Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson

Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson

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