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Simple Ceremony Memorializes Homeless Persons Who Died On the Streets of San Francisco
by Robert B. Livingston
Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:08 AM
A small group of San Franciscans gathered in the rain this evening to pay their respects to those persons who died homeless in their city during the past year and to re-dedicate themselves toward the goal of ending poverty and homelessness everywhere.
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San Francisco, California
December 21, 2006

A small group of San Franciscans gathered in the rain this evening to pay their respects to those persons who died homeless in their city during the past year and to re-dedicate themselves toward the goal of ending poverty and homelessness everywhere.

The simple ceremony took place this evening in front of City Hall as it has 18 previous years and was organized by the San Francisco Network Ministries (an interfaith group) and the Coalition of the Homeless. Representatives from the Tom Waddell Clinic (which documents homeless casualties) Unite Here (the union organization), and local charitable organizations were also present. A small number of other concerned citizens joined in.

In the shadows cast by a huge Christmas tree, participants circled together in the cold and

drizzle holding candles and umbrellas. They joined in prayer, song, and reverence when the long list of names were solemnly read to the tolling of a bell.

Estelle Mays of St. John's Presbyterian Church and Reverend Glenda Hope invoked the ceremony by noting that poverty and homelessness need not exist in our world of plenty.

Sharing the reading of names of homeless persons who died in 2006 were: Hani, of the Islamic Society; John Fitzgerald of the St. Anthony Foundation; Buddhist Monks from the San Francisco Zen Center; Debra Salan from the Congregation Beth Sholom; M. Macha Nightmare, a pagan spiritualist; and a representative of the Tom Waddell Clinic.

Reverend Hope asked for names of others not yet known, and several participants in the gathering added names of people they knew who were homeless when they died.

The ceremony ended by burning the list of names and calling for a recommitment to work for justice, compassion, healing and peace.

Useful links:
San Francisco Network Ministries
http://www.sfnetworkministries.org/index.html

St. Anthony Foundation
http://www.stanthonysf.org/home.html

St. John's Presbyterian Church
http://www.stjohnssf.org/

Islamic Society of San Francisco
http://www.islamsf.org/issf.php

San Francisco Zen Center
http://sfzc.org/

Congregation Beth Sholom
http://www.bethsholomsf.org/CBS/pages/

M. Macha Nightmare
http://www.machanightmare.com/

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
http://www.cohsf.org/

Fact Sheet
http://www.cohsf.org/eng/resources/factsheets/hfs.php

Tom Waddell Health Center
http://www.dph.sf.ca.us/chn/HlthCtrs/TomWadell.htm

Central City Hospitality House
http://www.hospitalityhouse.org/

W.R.A.P. (Western Regional Advocacy Project)
http://www.wraphome.org/

W.R.A.P. Report: "Without Housing" (PDF)
http://www.wraphome.org/wh_press_kit/Without_Housing_20061114.pdf
§At about 5:30 PM citizens and spiritual leaders gather
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§Paul Boden
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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Paul Boden, former head of the Coalition on Homelessness, now directs an organization called "WRAP," The Western Regional Advocacy Project.

More:
http://tinyurl.com/ykadcw
§Rick Darnell ready smile belies a very tender heart.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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Rick manages the Community Arts Program at the Central City Hospitality House, the only free-of-charge fine arts studio for homeless and poor artists in San Francisco.
§Buddhist monks lead a chant.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§Solemn bystanders listen and try to stay dry.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§Reading the Metta Sutta (Buddha's meditation on Loving Kindness)
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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"This is what should be accomplished by the one who is wise who seeks the good and has obtained peace. Let one be strenuous upright and sincere. Without pride easily contented and joyous. Let one not be submerged by the things of the world. Let one not take upon oneself the burden of riches. Let one's senses be controlled. Let one be wise but not puffed up and let one do nothing that the wise would reprove.

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY. MAY THEY BE JOYOUS AND LIVE IN SAFETY.

All living beings whether weak or strong, in high, middle or low realms of existence. Small or great visible or invisible-- near or far, born or to be born-- may all beings be happy. Let no one deceive another nor despise any being in any state. Let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another. Even as a mother, at the risk of her life, watches over and protects her only child-- so with boundless mind should one cherish all living things-- suffusing love over the whole world, above, below and all around without limit-- so let one cultivate an infinite goodwill towards the whole world. Standing or walking sitting or lying down-- during all one's waking hours let one practice the way with gratitude. Not holding to fixed views, endowed with insight, freed from the sense appetites, one who achieves the way will be freed from the duality of birth and death."
§To bear the rain! Imagine to live without shelter.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§Reading names of those who died because they had no home.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§Some held candles while they listened.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§All stood silently as one name after another was read.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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§The ceremony ended by burning the names.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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This memorial is held every year with new names-- because the problem of homelessness has not gone away. Hopefully, the efforts and prayers of those who care have helped save many others who may have died.
§The small crowd lingers a few moments, and disperses into the night.
by Robert B. Livingston Friday Dec 22nd, 2006 1:09 AM
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It is said that the universe contains more dark matter than light, and that darkness should not be something to fear, but rather to understand.

Prejudice against the poor and weak needs to be understood and reckoned with. All people deserve a safe place to sleep-- and even more: a home that makes them happy.
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National Homeless Persons’ Memorial DayMore Useful LinksFriday Dec 22nd, 2006 11:05 PM

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