Derek Kemp carries the American flag at the head of a group of Occupy Fort Myers protestors who were marching Saturday 12/10/11 in downtown Fort Myers. The group, protesting corporate greed and corrupt and ineffectual politicians as part of a the international Occupy Movement, marched throughout downtown Fort Myers and over the Edison Bridge and back.Occupy Fort Myers, after leaving the campus of our church, is now back in action, looking to Occupy foreclosed homes in Lee County.  Must of us locals are well aware that Lee County was hard hit. For y’all who aren’t local, President Obama visited Lee County shortly after being elected to try and cheer us up it was so bad.

My partner and I live next to and across from an empty lot.  For sale and for rent signs are all over our neighborhood. Empty shopping strips FOR LEASE are ghostly reminders of the boom times.  Most of the time, I no longer notice.  When I travel to other places, I see buildings occupied with stores and home-owners and renters.  Then I remember that Lee County still has some major problems.  For those who do not have the luxury of traveling, Occupiers will help reframe and remind all of us in Lee County that the foreclosure situation is not okay.  It is not normal.  Homes used to be a symbol of the American dream, a symbol of success.  Now, many homes in Lee County, taken by mold and disrepair, are symbols of disappointment and failure.  Sadly, that failure lands on the homeowner, the person who invested in the dream of having a stable asset.

In the midst of my appreciation for Occupy Fort Myers, let me also mention a little something about the Advent season.  In these days leading up to Christmas, Christians are noticing and inviting their own Occupy movement.  Advent is the season to quiet one’s soul and anticipate the in-dwelling spirit of the Holy.  Emmanuel means god with us.  Anticipating the birth of Christ, the incarnation of Love and Peace in the world, the connections of Occupy and Advent are real for me.  The Occupy movement appeals to that very in-dwelling best-place self within me…the seat of my soul that compels me to love, to worship the beauty of the earth, to work for justice and peace…

As code officials discuss what fines Occupy Fort Myers will have to pay each day for their occupation of foreclosed homes, I am grateful that OFM too has occupied my conscience.  As such, their work has caused me to slow down and notice Emmanuel.  And I shall not wait passively for some magic miracle. Instead, I shall work to make my being a worthy companion and an open vessel to the in-dwelling Spirit of Love. I shall make of myself a birther of Peace in the world.

For Occupy: (lyrics from Latin 9th century, based on John Mason Neale, 1818-1866)

O, come, O come, Emmanuel, and with your captive children dwell. Give comfort to all exiled here, and to the aching heart bid cheer.  Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come within in as Love to dwell.

Rejoice Occupiers!  Thank you for making room for Love to dwell.  May the Spirit of Life and Love dwell in you as you occupy our minds and hearts.

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