Wednesday, May 31, 2006

in the dinner line

tonight, we had a lot of people show up for dinner- maybe around 100 people. i had actually arrived early and watched the people scramble for spots in line,positioning themselves on the edge of their seats to be ready when darren finished praying for the meal. a long line like the tail of a dragon in a chinese new year's parade snaked down one wall, then another and curled around a third. tucked in my bag was my own dinner, to be consumed later allowing me to drink in all the people and not be concerned with my own hunger at the moment.

an urge to talk to each one of them came over me, but i didn't know where to start. so i went and talked to my buddy glenn and mentioned i would like to ask each person a question, while they waited in line, but couldn't think of a question. the guy behind him, mark, piped up with such a simple, beautiful question:

"what are you thankful for today?"

the responses didn't vary all that much: "dinner," "being here," and the all-time favorite- "being alive."

it's funny how sometimes the homeless really help bring life into perspective for me. the concept of being alive, while resonating deep down, would not have been my first reach of a response. and yet, how simple life becomes- food, water, shelter, love and acceptance- life distilled down into the basic elemental needs. and life, how sweet it is, really. several in our "second helping" bible study shared how God had saved them from trying to kill themselves- they too are thankful for life. but i would posit that many of us are content to live half-lives.

so the question i leave you with is: "what does it mean to be alive?"

Sunday, May 28, 2006

what lies past the hurdle

4:15 p.m.-- i went to a wedding today- the shortest wedding i have ever attended, really, considering i was only there for 15 minutes, what with a persnickety lemon cake at home and crazy traffic on the golden gate.

prior to going, i knew i would know a huddle of people- the bride, the groom, and a family that lives nearby. originally i thought it would be impossible to attend since we would be in greece, but good ol' me switched up labor day with memorial day- hence me sans date. i am a fan of people- an extrovert all the way, but i have moments of intense introversion. visions of a throng of people and meaningless banter, small talk abound.

we are gathered outside waiting to shower the groom and bride with rose petals. i'm determining mentally whether or not i'm actually going to attend the reception that i've been looking forward to, since it is at lark creek inn. i envision a room full of strangers and i start feeling gross. i'm talking with the mother of the family and resolve that i will not go. that really this is the only right thing to do, since i don't want to affix myself to this family like a leach.

but once i'm in my car, i surmise that really this is not the right answer. i begin to think of all the myriad things i could do in the warm, sunny weather, all dolled up in a black dress, pearls and heels. hmm. frappucino doesn't quite cut it. and it occurs to me that i will not like myself later if i don't confront this and put myself out there. so there i am getting on the 101.

9 p.m.-- i am leaving a great reception, resplendent with delectable bites like a stilton souffle with arugula, pignolia, and grapefruit salad; chilean sea bass, gnocchi, fava beans and celery; wedding cupcakes infused with a shot of passion fruit creme; and edible spoons filled with butterscotch pudding. the people were great too- or not the scary minions envisioned in my mind.

and i will sleep tonight feeling peace at conquering something i felt beyond my accomplishment.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

a blur amid a funk of words

whew, what a night! our little group aptly named "second helping" that meets after the homeless dinner consisted tonight of an intimate eight of us. i don't know what was in the meatballs to cause the kind of weird energy brewing in that space. in the course of 10 minutes loretta had made joe feel insulted by reading his t-shirt out loud, which had a great slogan "antiporn hero" to the point that he literally took it off and put it back on inside out.

fast forward- we find out that joe's roommate is in the hospital and he's just really worried about her especially since she's not able to take her psych meds while there. then daniel chimes in that doctors basically don't give a rip about drug addicts. i thought joe was going to leap out of his chair swinging. yipes. then again, daniel was the voice of doom in the group tonight and thankfully not the voice of a prophet, otherwise, i would have TMJ and mariah's sister-in-law and baby in utero would be toast. a little thing i like to call tact seemed lacking, but then again...

we prayed over joe and sang songs to God with verve. a reading of psalm 42 followed by a grand dissection of what stood out to each of us. and here's mine: "as deep calls to deep," followed below by a quick poem crafted during a subsequent period of silence.

deep calls out to deep,
my soul uttering silent groans
you are
ever before me yet
ever invisible- if i reach out
to touch you my hands grasp
pockets of air, but moments
walking down the street, the air is
thick and scented as if with the smoke and curl
of incense, the sacred and the mundane
coexisting, intermingling,
the sacred breathing wisps of life
on the created ones, strengthening and encircling
the half-alive with vibrance, aware
of something more
than just that which is tangible,
deep calling out to a deep more real
than what my paltry hands can attempt to grasp.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

the other end of the stick

regardless of what you think of our troops in iraq or even the president for that matter, we have to stay in iraq. i don't like owning those words. and i definitely don't like the fact that there is a need for them to exist at all. i wish we could go back and rethink entering iraq, but the past is the past and can only be changed in so far as it is useful for informing a better future.

we have a responsibility to that country to stay and help (even if it doesn't seem like it is) them mete out a government infrastructure in place. it's probably better for them to see us still as infidels if it would cause them to see not shiite or sunni, but instead iraqis united for iraq.

one thing we don't do very well as americans is stick things out. meaning, things take longer than perhaps our initial gauge would have us believe. and so it is that though we tend to be as a country, future-oriented, it is immediate future orientation that has our attention until the next best thing rolls along and vies for it.

and so i posit to you, dear reader, that if we seek to bring longlasting freedom-bringing change we have to be able to be in it for the long haul if that's how long it takes. though let's pray for expediency and the curtailing of loss of life in the waiting period.

Monday, May 08, 2006

a "gandhism"

"the spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular." - gandhi

i wonder what he would have to say about iraq.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

little bites

earlier this year, january 1st to be exact, i resolved to do several things and it occurred to me that i am going to approach this in a cupcake fashion instead of a whole triple layer cake slice sort of way. So in May, these are my frosting, cake and foil wrapper:

-- i resolve to call my parents at least once a week (which i really have become better at doing)

-- i resolve to write more letters (i have begun pulling away into the recesses of my room and actually putting pen to paper. i smile thinking about a note being tucked away in a mailbox amid bills- a veritable gem among rocks. it's been great, really.)

-- i resolve to start putting myself out there- in terms of seeking to be published.
(i now have sought out the guidance of my poetry prof. from college and he provided some fab. pointers; not to mention after he read the one poem i had on-hand, he said he thought i would be a good fit with some of the mfa programs he had mentioned to me, which really is the highest compliment he could have paid.)

-- as far as my last resolution, i don't know if it's possible for me to do it on my own, other than recognizing that every demographic needs a darling and clearly i am not being successful in my attempts of dissuasion. (the resolution in question-- i resolve to not be the darling of thugs, hoodlums, drug dealers and the homeless.)

three out of four isn't bad.