Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where Is My Home?



He was sitting on a bench, cane in hand, with his eyes closed tight. Downtown on Sunday mornings is the most soothing place on earth. Across from this old man's place of comfort sat the courthouse and a quaint church--one of which I have never been inside. Both release the sounds of life that keep people moving--the chimes of time, and the awe of a group of voices singing.

For the first time in awhile, our family was trying to find a home. Our first visit to an unknown congregation with new faces was a strange and awkward position--one of which was not the least bit alluring or entertaining--but we immediately felt at peace once the music began. It moved us, much as the chorus downtown soothes the elderly stranger.

Shanna and I left the church, beating traffic after dismissing early, and feeling rejuvenated. There the old man was sitting in the same spot on the same bench as we passed through the Square in order to find sustenance for the afternoon. As we passed, I watched him mouth the words of the chorus to the hymn being sung across the street and smiled. He opened his eyes slowly to see me looking; he waved gently, and I repeated the gesture.

"Who's that?" Shanna asked.
"I have no idea."

I wondered about his story--why he chose to sit on that bench and soak in the Sunday moment rather than walk through the heavy church doors and sit on a pew and join in the singing.

"You have one mortal enemy: time," Pastor Miller said. "How many times have you heard someone say, 'Where did the time go?'"

I thought of the courthouse clock in town. Its chimes reminding all of us of our long to-do lists for the day ahead. For over ten years, I have said that clock was a quintessential part of my hometown. But as the years have weighed on that elderly man singing hymns to himself each Sunday, I wonder if each interrupting chime stands as too much of a reminder of things to come... Or, perhaps, how much things have changed.

Still without a home, technically, my family and I plan on giving Pastor Miller and his church another chance next Sunday. We are one step closer to finding a home, but what of the old man? What of me? Will I be there, fifty years from now, sitting on the bench, listening to hymns every Sunday, homeless and alone? Or will I have finally found contentment and understanding in my needed self-reflection, and soon find a place to plant my feet?

I can change my future if I just take some time to breathe, then act. Act on love, act on impulse, act on inhibition, and proactively be somebody--somebody who does not worry or grow impatient. Somebody to love. Somebody with a home.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coffee and Books



The bindings unbroken, the pages unfurled and freshly printed. The store smelled of fresh ink--warming and welcoming. Together we stood, laughing, smiling, and contemplating the synopses on the back of every book, graphic novel and comic. The daring adventures, shallow and deep characters, and ideas were floating around me, making me dizzy. Melody was to my left, inquisitively studying the fiction section in hopes to find more to read throughout the course of the summer.

"I have too much to read!" she sighed. I know Melody; she will never finish her list--it never stops growing.

The middle of the week means, even in the evening, there will be a lot of cars in the parking lot, but they are always misleading. For us, I felt as if we were two of the only people actually looking at the books. The rest of the shallow and disturbed were huddled by the bound Starbucks mooching off of the wireless internet and sucking down their customized Frappucinos--flavors so airy and light it is almost unsatisfying. Melody and I bought some drinks quickly and hurried back to the shelves to explore some more. Most of the time was spent trying to keep Melody from any cover that read the name "Loki" on it. We had finished watching "Thor" at the neighboring theatre, and her new obsession with the man behind the character was exhausting--exhausting, but amusing, just like Melody.

Few people stopped and stared as Melody and I managed to get louder and more obnoxious. Those who dared to peak above their newspapers and People Magazines were greeted with likewise glaring stares from me, who had lost all patience with the impotence on the coffee side of the bookstore.

Because having a free-standing Starbuck's full of your kind isn't bad enough, I thought.

God forbid any of the Superficials spill their lattes on the books, their caffeine-shot eyes and Macs were indicators they did not come to the bookstore to actually read, or, at least, find something to read other than the news-feeds on Twitter and Facebook. How they would even manage to line their eyes long enough to finish a sentence or two is beyond my comprehension.

I am not sure when bookstores stopped being about the books and, rather, a hot-spot for all of the indie-fascinated folks this side of town, but I would much rather coffee and books be separated once more. The merge might help businesses gain customers, but I would much rather walk into a bookstore and see readers than find people who wreak of cocoa bean and a mysterious perfume I would never dream of buying [just for the sake of buying].

It is a blessing and a privilege to a hold a book in one's hands and experience a new life, either previously had or imagined by someone brilliant. I am waiting for the day I can walk into a bookstore again and feel as though I am standing in a store full of books, and nothing more.

And then there's the section with Twilight and other juvenile sins against literature...

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Faces



Melody and I were in a state of perplexity, having driven around trying to find the crematory center, finally arriving at the memorial service for a mutual friend's father who had recently passed. The mysterious demon, cancer, had taken hold of this life as well--one week after the friend's sister miscarried and had to deliver her stillborn baby boy. "Rough" is one adjective that will never truly describe the time in this family's life.

The memorial service was small in number and in time spent. The speaker spent more time anecdotally describing the man's life full of laughter, and reminding us immortality is but a dream. While I cannot speak for the rest of the group there, self-reflection was at the forefront of my mind, and nothing more.

"I don't know much, but I do know what was always written in red--the stuff Jesus said." During all of the arrangements, the deceased spoke those words to the night's speaker. That, along with a few last words in which stated, "I'm holding your baby boy now," to his eldest daughter who had suffered the miscarriage, caused tears to form in my eyes over a man I never truly knew.

But, if his last few words to the ones he loved are any way to gauge his person, he was and is beautiful. As is his family. Seeing all of the faces filled with tears of joy and mourning made me realize, I have to make sure my loved ones' feelings come before my own, otherwise, I would hate to think what they would be feeling at my own memorial service, theoretically (hopefully), years from now.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Roses



Whether students were greeted with the sounds of "Pomp and Circumstance," or the friendly faces of relatives and friends as they leave campus, one thing was for certain: summer has begun.

At home, the pollen is not as frequent of a visitor; the gnats not in my face, pestering, as they once were. The humidity that punished my skin is barely noticeable, now, and I am content.

I look at all of the friends who have big plans for the summer. I have some of my own. While I may not be travelling overseas, taking a professional internship or even taking on another semester of academics during the hottest months of the year, I will be relaxing, and taking time to enjoy life a little more, sleep a little more, dream a little more, and prepare a little more for my future endeavors.

The roses are blooming in our garden—the buds now opening to reveal the beauty within. I might make a walk over to the garden patch and smell a few, just for kicks.

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