The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy
During the 11:00 Eucharist at St. Bart’s on Park Avenue on Sunday, October 28, every iPhone in the church made a sound I had never heard a phone make before. It was a siren, and when I and half of the congregation looked at our screens, we saw a black triangle with a warning that we were in danger. A few hours later, the city announced that by the next day, virtually everything – even the subway – would stop.
By sunset on Monday, wind and rain began to pound the city, a part of a tree near the Chapel snapped off, and the Hudson began to rise. The water reached 10th Avenue and then the power went off. We on the Close, along with most of lower Manhattan, were in the dark until Friday evening.
Those days were surely a challenge. We lost more than our lights; we also lost cell phone service and internet. We were cut off so we pulled together. A portable generator brought some heat, a little light, and a working coffee maker to the reception area in Seabury, and there we gathered just to be together and wait. In four days of cold and darkness, I did not hear one tense word or see one unkind gesture, but plenty of hard work and mutual care. We did more than weather the storm. We grew together through it. It took a full week after the power came back for heat to be restored to most of the Close, and even then, eating and praying in hats and coats, bunched together in the Chapel for warmth, no one complained.
General Seminary is hardly limited to the Close. Half of our student body now commutes, as do our entire staff, a few of our full-time and all of our adjunct faculty members. Every afternoon, I walked north to Midtown, the “normal” Manhattan. There, I wrote updates and sent them by email and Facebook to General in the diaspora. You can read all of the letters and associated stories at news.gts.edu/sandy.
What you will read is the story of a community resilient and united, slow to anger and abounding in love. It is not a stretch to see those two weeks as a metaphor for the past two years here. Hit by a storm, we stuck together and, with limited resources, discovered how strong and alive we really are.
When I finally found a wifi zone each day, email messages and Facebook comments rolled across my screen: signs that all across the country people were thinking of us. Thank you for your concern and care for General Seminary. Along with the generator, you brought us warmth and light.