It Goes On

Harvard Square Sidewalk, Election Day, 2017

Like many “Villens,” Ralph Hergert had dual citizenship: Somerville and Cambridge. So it was not surprising that although a long-time, pivotal, and much-loved Somerville activist, Ralph’s memorial on Saturday was held at Old Cambridge Baptist Church, his spiritual home in his last years. And that his beloved, vaulted church overflowed with OCBC congregants and Villens who’d worked with him and beside him on peace and social justice issues for over thirty years.

Still the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in East Somerville when we first met, Ralph and I had many conversations about how his faith and mine, both predicated on the belief that we can experience The Divine without an intermediary, were so radically different culturally yet, in fact, so very close. Good stuff.

My favorite Ralph story: He and I worked in the same building, he as the head of the Mayor’s Office of Human Services and I as a teacher at Somerville’s adult learning center. One morning as we were both coming to work we met outside the building and, somehow, got to talking about musicโ€”specifically, for some reason lost in the mists of time, about “There Is A Balm in Gilead.” (Endlessly kind, he nevertheless pitied my ignorance of liturgical/spiritual music.) We walked inside, he walking up a flight of stairs, me walking down a flight, and when he reached the top of the stairs, he leaned over the railing. He looked down at me. He grinned. And ย began singing that wonderful spiritual. His voice filled the stairwell. His voice filled my sin-sick soul.

Ralph struggled with Alzheimer’s in his last years; his disease was referenced, present, many times during his (music-rich) memorial. ย Something else was present, too: a sense that The Work continues. I felt it; others did, too. That all that Ralph held dear and had worked so hard for lived. Buoyant. Enduring. Possible.

Good stuff.

2 thoughts on “It Goes On

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hi, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS soul sisterfriend, awesomely precious and dearly special Christian Quaker woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 WOW, what a very interesting, fascinating, and rewarding tribute and memorial here just reading this and bearing witness to your great sharing here on this great, dear late man who was your dear friend, our Ralph Hergert!!!! WOW, I so enjoyed reading this, sistah and friend of mine, Patricia!!!! WOW, he sounds like such an amazing man, sistahfriend!!!!! Sister, I wish that I had met him and known him, Patricia!!!! He seems like such a dear and beautiful soul and spirit who has graduated to our Heaven, Patricia!!!!!! I so love how you use the word, "Villens," for your so, so very precious self and the other great inhabitants of your beloved city of Somerville, my so, so very dearest and darling, precious friend and sistah, Patricia!!!! What a nice short nickname for each and every one of you who so gladly dwell in awesome Somerville, my friend!!!!! Sisterfriend, I so love how you share very delightfully that Ralph Hergert had dual citizenship in Somerville and Cambridge, and as to how that although he had been for a long time an steadfast, dedicated, and devoted Somerville activist that his spiritual home was late in life where he was also so loved and cherish was at the Old Cambridge Baptist Church. How awesome that his memorial was there, Patricia! I'm just so, so very glad, thrilled, overjoyed, and happy that the church was filled over the brim with not only OCBC congregants and Villens folks but also with YOU, Patricia, and other folks who had blessedly with such sheer joy worked with him side by side on peace and social justice years for more than three decades, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!! What a great experience that must have been to work alongside this very deeply spiritual man and in doing such very empowering work from all of your heart of hearts and spirits for very many awesome persons so very much in need, Patricia!!!!!! It was such a blessed joy reading his obituary bearing witness to the very full life which Ralph Hergert led and as to how he so blessed and helped very many of our sisters and brothers as precious children of Spirit along the way, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! I love so how you shared and declared here that when he was still the pastor at Grace Baptist church in East Somerville when you first met one another that you both began very many deeply profound and poignant conversations regarding how his faith and yours, Patricia, both strongly based on the strong belief that we can connect to and experience God as a Verb without an intermediary, that each of you with this belief were very differently culturally but, in fact very much indeed, such close Good Stuff. Sistah, your words here are just so, so very full of grace and beautiful and act as such a healing balm, Patricia!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 WOW, I just so, so very much love, like, enjoy, and appreciate your very touching and moving Ralph story here, my dear, dearest, precious Patricia!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 It's just very nice here learning that YOU, precious sistah and friend of mine, Patricia, and Ralph had been employed in the same building with Ralph being the head of the Mayor's Office of Human Services and you as a very nurturing, loving, dedicated, and devoted teacher at Somerville's adult learning center. WOW, what a sheer and joyous delight and blessing this must have been for Ralph to sing so powerfully and beautifully in the stairwell with the stairwell perfectly augmenting what I can imagine was his booming and resonant singing voice, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! Sistahfriend, I so love both of the great links which you have as usual as always once again very graciously and generously featured and included with your very powerful blog post article here, Patricia!!!! WOW, what a resounding and magnificent voice our brother Paul Robeson had for certain, my and our so, so very absolutely FANTASTIC sistah and friend, Patricia!!!! What a joy and blessing to watch and listen to our so very dear Paul Robeson singing on You Tube, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! How great that both our Ralph Hergert in the stairwell for you singing and how our so very dear Paul Robeson sang this very timeless and lovely hymn called, "There Is A Balm in Gilead." Wow, I absolutely LOVE this hymn, Patricia, and it truly enhances and increases my very faith in Spirit and blesses eternally my very soul and spirit!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 What a glorious experience it must have been listening to our brothah Ralph Hergert sing just as it was to watch and listen to our brothah Paul Robeson sing on You Tube with his booming singing voice, my and our so, so very absolutely AWESOME sistah, Patricia!!!!!!

    Sisterfriend, I'm very saddened to learn that our Ralph Hergert late in life suffered from and struggled with Alzheimer's, Patricia!!!! This is such a horrible disease which just ravages people, sister and friend of mine, Patricia!!!!!! WOW, what sweet words pouring out from your very, very heart, and your very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit, Patricia, and you very blessedly composed your very endearing and engaging words here on how his Alzheimer's was mentioned, present, very often during his very musically abundant memorial, and that here something else was also present with the perceptively intuitive and discerning sense that The Work continues on. I feel it, too, just as I know that you and the others did as well, Patricia!!!!! What powerful words here as you so, so very sweetly and lovingly say in such a heartfelt and caring manner that all that Ralph Hergert worked on with such diligence being very conscientious for lived on, Buoyant, Enduring, Possible. WOW, I wish that I had met this awesome man and known him, too, Patricia!!!!! WOW, I bet he was such a pleasure to know as a friend and a co-worker in spirit just doing our God's work here on Earth in our time on our blessed Earth, Patricia!!!!!! I, too, say a very hearty, "Good stuff!," and I add to that very eagerly a "Praise be!!" I just know somehow that he is singing in our Heaven with Spirit and all of the very many other wonderful persons in our Heaven, Patricia!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

    Sistah, it is just amazing to me that it is one year later already since that demise of an election last year when that vile man who I just cannot say his name so called "won" the election for President, Patricia!!!!!! UGH!!!!! Just as I thought and knew beyond a doubt in my very, very heart, and in my very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit we are making our way through no way in navigating the very tough and tricky terrain with all of the oppressive forces that be at work at this time. Our So, So Very Good God is there For Always for each and every one of us to somehow someway find a way out of no way to cope with whatever befalls us no matter how plagued we are with just heinous circumstances and horrid people like that evil man who is our so called President and others of his ilk, Patricia!!!!!! We will never ever lose heart, never ever lose spirit, and never ever lose Spirit, Patricia!!!!! WOW, as always Patricia not only over this past year but as usual as always YOU have once again so, so very much uplifted and inspired ME, sistah and friend, and so, so very many other folks with ME, and with each and every one of us so, so very much loving and cherishing YOU, Patricia, just as I, as we, all know that you so, so very much love and cherish all of us, too, my friend!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 I continue to as usual as always once again feel even better and bright by YOU, my so, so very dearest and darling sistahfriend, Patricia, with your very encouraging and emboldening blog post articles, other writings and books, and with all you do in such a very fine and excellent fashion doing your absolutely very best in such a very diligently conscientious manner!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 I thank-YOU, Patricia, and God continually for YOU, my so, so very dear, dearest, precious Patricia, and FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE FOR ALWAYS, my sister and friend!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 Sistahfriend, YOU are my very life and eternal blessings FOR ALWAYS, Patricia!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!! YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!! Patricia, YOU are truly such a joy and blessing, too!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 Sistah, please have such a superbly super Saturday, a wondrously wonderful rest of your weekend, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 My friend, you are just the very greatest and the best, and such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness, Patricia!!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!! God so, so very much loves and cherishes you A WHOLE LOT and SO DO I, TOO, Patricia, A WHOLE BUNCH!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very awesomely special and dearly precious, soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you're FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Patricia, sisterfriend of mine, and with My and God's Very Peace and Love FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sistah of mine, and with Such Blessings and Such Very Even More Blessings FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

    Yours FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman AND FOR ALWAYS in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

  2. Oops, sistah and friend, I forgot to say that I as usual as always once again love and so enjoy the very fitting and applicable title to this very salient, succinct, and cogent blog post article by absolutely AWESOME YOU here, Patricia, with the picture perfect picture accompanying this very fine and excellent writing here, my so, so very dearest and darling friend!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 The words printed in chalk in the picture, are very vitally urgent. necessary and important because our kids need to be represented as well when we make our very conscientious choices for whom we vote for and our kids need us to be their very voices because they are not able to vote yet, Patricia!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

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