We continued a relatively new tradition this year – marching in Asbury Park’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The weather was great – not always the reality of a March parade by the sea! And our crowd was the biggest ever. Board members, staff, volunteers, Center House residents and a wonderful group of our folks who come each day to The Center for lunch, for comradery, for friendship. The marchers waved to the crowds, gave candy to the children (and adults) along the route. It was a glorious day. But I think it was more than people walking the parade route. It was an illustration of the community the Center is. In a real sense it showed solidarity. And solidarity is not about doing, it’s about being. In our being with one another we make real the fullness of our humanity. In these moments the essence of something bigger than all of us dwells with us and stirs us. This stirring is hope.
That is what we could see walking down the parade route.
I was speaking to some of those who marched the following day. And they were still beaming over the excitement of the day. One woman who couldn’t walk because of her disability had been listening to people talking about the parade and said she thought it was so great that the Center participates in things like the parade. She said that unlike many years ago when people living with HIV disease would have to hide away now we could parade down the street alive, together, in solidarity. The parade watchers would often applaud when the Center float and the marchers passed by.
They were watching people walk by who cared for one another, who supported one another – people who were an amazing happy, full of life community.