american angel notes from amsterdam – 17

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sunday october 8, 2006


from the silodam, at the northwest corner of amsterdam, to the coffee and company at the corner of haarlemmer dijk and buiten oranje straat, i passed just one car as i rode on my girl’s bike this morning.

i wish there were no cars. or just for the ones who must have them. i sense that would be a step toward peace. or tyranny.

i will read the mass online. pop into st. francis xavier on the way to the theatre. kneel and pray.

then continue the prayer on my feet on the stage of the magnificent stadsschowberg. the city theatre of amsterdam. today’s place of worship. this day of rest. this opportunity to heal and be healed.

the sun rose again today and again i’m faced with this glorious opportunity.


these words come to me today; my daily word from the gratitude folk, this dutch proverb;

“truth has all the benefits of sham without the disadvantages.”

from the 1st reading, today from genesis;

“the Lord God said: “It is not suitable for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”

from the 2nd reading, from paul’s letter to the hebrews;

“He ‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels’, that by the Grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

and from the Gospel of mark;

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

what God has joined together, no human being can separate. what God has joined together. unity.

cassiel; the angel of solitude and tears who “shows forth the unity of the eternal kingdom.”

thomas merton said this a few days he died on a stone floor in thailand:

“and the deepest level of communication is not communication but communion. it is wordless. it is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. not that we discover a new unity. we discover an older unity.

my dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. but we imagine that we are not. and what we have to recover is our original unity. what we have to be is what we are.”

this project began for me with an odd email from my friend james lescene. it’s worth copying below;

Bernie Dear,

How is it going? How are you? How’s your heart?

Below you’ll find a very complicated email about a play that someone I don’t know is doing in Amsterdam and Boston. Since it’s an adaptation of a beautiful movie called WINGS OF DESIRE, I’m assuming it too is beautiful. As you are beautiful I thought of passing it along to you. See what you can make of it.

Best love,


today we premiere. today we continue. today we see what we have made of it. this Holy day. this day of rest. of completion. of beginnings and endings. today damiel becomes human. again.

thank you james. thank you all my angels. thank you so much.

with all God’s love,


wednesday october 11, 2006. 12.58

is there anybody out there?

had written about the premiere on monday. the writing has disappeared. the moment has disappeared.

“now” and “now” and “now”. “nu” and “nu” and “nu”. the speed of disappearance.

the applause lasted through 4 curtain calls last night. people stood and smiled. it seemed genuine and hearty. i was surprised. it was our 2nd show. a tuesday show. we seemed flat and off. the premiere audience was not as generous. or perhaps they were generous in their silence.

silence is beautiful and cruel.

our work has begun.

jesse and i spent monday in the cafe toussaint on bosboom toussaint straat. a hard time of talk of back home. talk of the mysterious distance. between a man and woman. a huge fly, the size of a kitten, flopped in front of him. jesse thought it dropped from the ceiling to die in front of him. it was still moving, but fading. jesse placed great importance in this moment. almost in prayer he wished that the fly did not die in front of him. that that might prophesy is time in amsterdam. his time with this wings of desire.

on monday we were in the midst of much heartache. the cast was mostly sad and exhausted. like at the end of a murky war. no clear sense of victory or defeat. jesse pet the fly. it seemed to have fur. a fly the size of a small bat. jesse continued his almost prayer. “fly, i would be so happy if you just woke up and flew away.” the fly was clearly fading. lying down. subtle death. quiet.

“this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
not with a bang
but a whimper”

the fly moved more. it’s legs. wings still. and then it lifted. wings of desire. it made us both so happy.

our work begins again. our work shifts. there is much talk of change among us. we don’t know who will be in america with us when we arrive. we don’t know who will greet us with open arms. america will be a different place than when i left.

“you can’t step into the same america twice”

at the end of this week i will begin in earnest my work on damiel. for now i remain the angel of solitude and tears. the angel who dares to say no.

only silence from sarita. cruel and beautiful. it is time for pride in the name of love. her silence a song of freedom. like marley’s redemption song.



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