By Lynne Salomon Miceli
One evening in 1997, shortly before the Grand Opening of the resurrected A.R.E. of NY Center, stands out in my memory….
The alarm clock buzzed. I was nowhere near ready to wake up. I had gotten home from a stressful workday as a Special Ed teacher and “crashed” for about an hour—but now it was time to head downtown to 150 W. 28th Street, where our new Center was in the process of being born on the 10th floor. There was so much to do!
After nine years of preparation—meditation for guidance, passionate prayer, community building, lobbying for permission from A.R.E. HQ, filing incorporation papers, fundraising, more fundraising, developing a business plan, searching for the right space, negotiating with the landlord—we had at last signed a lease on our new Center. Then the work really started.
We set a date for our Grand Opening and set about publicizing it. Our Program Committee, chaired by Sylvia Chappell, started a flurry of planning. Richard Ottens, an interior designer, created a blueprint for the layout of our space. We hired a small construction company to do the buildout. They sent one guy! He was very likeable and did excellent work. In fact, he was extremely meticulous—and very slow. We were paying him by the hour. Finally, we took over and finished the work ourselves. Richard, Ken Klein, my husband Peter Miceli and others put “clamshell” around the doors, painted and did other finishing touches.
There were event flyers to design and mail. To support our new Center, we would need Members, so there was also a Membership invitation letter to write. Once the letter was printed, we did a mailing to 10,000 people! In those days, we put together those mailings ourselves. We organized a crew of Volunteers who worked in shifts for days and days, and Ken Klein supervised as we collated, sealed and sorted. Meanwhile Richard Ottens had ordered the furniture we would need from Ikea. We had also ordered something like fifty folding chairs.
On this night that I remember so strongly, many of these furnishings had just been delivered. The next task was to unpack all the items, put together whatever needed assembly, and set them up in the Center. It was a big job. I was the Chair of the A.R.E. of NY Council and would be the Director of the new Center, so I had to be there.
Exhausted to the bone, I forced myself to keep putting one foot in front of another as I headed out the door to the subway station. When I got to the Center, a number of people were already there, working. I particularly remember that Ruth Fortel was there. She had been the librarian at the previous New York Edgar Cayce Center that closed in the mid-70s and she would now be the librarian in our new Center.
Someone had already unpacked and assembled the new bookshelves. They looked great! The books from the extensive metaphysical library in the previous New York Center had mostly been donated to the midtown Manhattan library when that Center closed—but here was Ruth already organizing a new library and putting books on the shelves. She and Ken had held on to some of the best reference books from the old Center and other books were already being donated. She was so happy!
Everyone working in the Center was excited to see it now taking shape. The place hummed with activity—and more. It was full of the joy of creation, of people working together to create something meaningful and beautiful. It was full of love. Under this influence, my fatigue, which a short time before had been overwhelming, fell away completely as I worked alongside these good people. It was like magic! The excitement and the joy of the work was so exhilarating. That is what I will never forget about that night.
I’m so happy to see that that joy and exhilaration continue in a new phase of the work at our Center. As long as we have that excitement, love and growth, our Center will be a vital, important, magical place!