Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Community: It's a Good Thing...

I'm back to a "normal" routine after a long summer of sleeping in, days watching cartoons in our pj's and staying up late...We are back to getting up early: Will has to be out of the house by 7:15, helping with homework after school and fighing over bedtimes. I truly love both seasons...just as I'm getting really tired of Summer and start craving a schedule again, September rolls around and then just as I think I can no longer force one of my kids to sit at the kitchen table and finish their homework, it's June again. It's really a great system for me because I like both organization and loosey-goosey, which is weird, I know...

But, I'm back to working my regular schedule plus some...our Mosaic manager, Christi was offered a new job that is amazing for her and I'm very happy for her although that means that Mark and I are opening Mosaic on a couple mornings and my hours behind the bar have increased. I have to be honest, I wasn't completely looking forward to this. I've enjoyed my days of getting the kids off to school and sitting with my cup of coffee, watching the Today Show until about 9:00 and then sauntering over to the office and sitting at my nice desk. I organize stuff and pay bills and do traffic control for the building and it's nice and safe. So being back behind the counter has been a little intimidating for me. We have some new systems in place, new "regulars" that I haven't met yet, just new stuff...

Yesterday went okay, I was out of my usual rhythm with making drinks and handling a line and explaining who we are...this morning I felt more like myself. I met three new friends. They live in an old school bus. Zoe is a small girl with brightly colored dreadlocks. She looks like a girl who has never met a stranger, she smiles easily and seemed genuinely shocked that she could get some food and a drink, even if she didn't have any money. She's in culinary school and her dream is to graduate and travel around the country in her school bus making food for people who need it. She told me if anyone comes in with food they got at a food bank that has to be cooked - which happens, we've had people come to us with whole uncooked chickens and dozens of eggs, not knowing what they should to with them - she would be happy to cook it for them. She wants to cook for nomadic peoples in the US - I'm not sure where those people are, but she's looking for them. I didn't completely understand this girl, but her smile was contagious and I found myself saying to her, "Do you know that your name means LIFE?" And she replied, "Yes! In Greek!" She was a bundle of life, her name fit her well.

She came in with Billy - he was a quieter guy with a warm smile. He ordered and ate his food and then came back up to the counter with a little pouch that was shaped like a skunk. He asked me if I collected rocks, which I don't. But he was taking out these beautiful little stones of all different shapes and colors. He's from Georgia originally and he's been collecting these rocks across the country. He told me that he likes to give them out to people that he wants to bless...so he gave me a piece of unpolished turquoise and a black obsidian for Mark. He told me that if we polish them up they will be really beautiful.

Isaac was an even quieter young man. I think he's new to the "group". He just made it to Seattle from Tennessee, he had a sweet southern drawl and called me "ma'am". He came back as they were heading out and asked me if we take donations so later, when he has a job he can come back and bring us some money. Now, we hear this all the time, but I think Isaac really will - it was the way he asked me so seriously.

These three just made me smile...I don't really understand their lifestyle. I don't want to live in an old school bus with a bunch of stinky people. I love the security I have of home and family and church. I don't know if they even have the option of that security at this point, or if they want it. But we were kind to them and they received that kindness and gave it back to us and this made me happy. It also made me thankful for a place of community where I get to meet people that I might never meet except for this space.

But, you don't have to have a space like Mosaic to have community. We can create community and take it with us where ever we go. Here's a challenge, and believe me, I'm talking to myself first:  find a way to interact with someone today that you wouldn't typically talk with or get to know.

That guy outside your grocery store with a sign? Stop and look him in the eyes and say "Hi!" and ask him how his day is going, even if you aren't going to give him any money. Acknowlege him as a human being instead of just passing by.

That harried mom that you see at the park who looks like she needs a break? Sit down next to her on the bench while your kids play and strike up a conversation, you might make a new friend, or you might not, but it won't hurt, I promise.

That neighbor across the street that you haven't spoken to yet? Bake some cookies (or buy them :) and simply ring their doorbell, no one does this anymore - at least not in my neighborhood. Community can be created where ever you are at, you don't have to have a space for it...bring it with you! It will make a difference!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Thought for Today....

I've felt drawn back to blogging recently...maybe it's because I don't feel like I can say all that I would like to say in that little space on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe it's because, as I get older, I think thoughts and then they are gone...so, maybe, if I write them down, I can capture them and hold them and revisit them later. For some reason, I've gone through a period of feeling like I don't have much to say, or at least no thoughts that matter in the grand scheme of life.

I think motherhood will do that to you, especially mothering high maintanence kids - even though only one of my kids is technically "special needs", they are both a handful and I think sometimes, just the maintaining of life and ministry and homework and dinner and laundry seems to suck every thought and energy out of my mind and body and there seems to be nothing left. By the end of the day, I have the mental energy for the monotony of knitting and television and that's about it.

I think my husband and my chosen vocation or "calling" does that to us as well....But, recently, I've been thinking more about things and life and homelessness and grace and church and God and family and....I think I need to start writing some of it down.

So, here's my thought for today...I walked through Mosaic on my way up to the office this morning and one of our street kids was at the counter. I have heard a lot recently about this particular kid and I hadn't yet put a face with a name, but I did today. This young man was the one that, last week, started a fight with an older homeless man outside of the coffeehouse and they ended up bringing some of their "issues" in...many heated words were exchanged, threats were issued, cops were called...and it goes on and on. We've had problems with this same young man in the past and he always tends to be belligerent, looking for a chance to claim that he's being slighted in some way. In the end, it was decided that he would be kicked out for a week, which he was very unhappy about. He claimed that it was unfair and exclaimed "I will never be back here again!" We heard of threats to break all the windows out in Mosaic, that we didn't truly care about homeless kids, and on and on...well, this morning, his week was up and guess who was back?

It was so strange as Mark and I walked through - Christi was fixing him a drink and getting him some Cup of Noodles. Mark greeted him and he grunted a semi-concious response. He definitely doesn't seem sorry or repentant in any way...he was driven in, maybe out of desperation for a caffeine fix or a place to sit and charge his phone, who knows. But, he was met with grace - doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for actions or that we aren't watching him closely to ensure everyone's safety, etc - but there is always a path back, always an offer of redemption.

This doesn't mean that it's easy to offer, in the day in, day out world that we live in of people treating us poorly, taking advantage, not getting what we think they deserve. But, I was reminded this morning while re-reading some of Brennan Manning's "The Ragamuffin Gospel" - he says, "The Good News of the gospel of grace cries out:  we are all, equally, privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God's mercy!" I need grace just as much as this young man does and I'm no more deserving of it than he is - and believe me, I would bet that life has been kinder to me than it has been to him.

We all  have desperation in our lives and cry out for grace...I think that remembering this helps us as we interact with others who need us to be gracious to them. I need this reminder almost daily. I am no more important or deserving of grace than the crazy homeless girl with a barking dog that drives me nuts, or the person pissing me off while riding my tail driving through my neighborhood, or the "friend" on Facebook who posts again about some political cause opposite from mine...and on and on...A friend reminded my through a Facebook status recently that it's a privilege to do what we do here - it's a privilege to offer grace because we've been offered it over and over and that's what I need to remember today.