Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Star Wars, strangers, and sunflowers

     I had been looking forward to the Friday after my birthday ever since
my friend Sarah told me she had a surprise planned for that night. I
love surprises, whether I am on the giving or receiving end of them.
All I knew was that she was picking me up at 6:00, I did not need to
dress up, and we were going downtown. Having vast experience with my
tendency toward tardiness, Sarah had purposely set the pick-up time
earlier than we actually needed to leave. As she'd predicted, I was
still getting ready when she arrived. But by about 6:15, we were
headed downtown to some mystery destination. After weaving through
tourist traffic, we finally found a garage with room for us to park
and started walking down Meeting Street. By the time we passed the
locksmith shop with all the keys pressed into the sidewalk, I
suspected we were heading for Theatre 99. Sure enough, we went behind
the bike shop and climbed the stairs to the small theatre. It was only
after the usher had torn our tickets that Sarah handed me mine and I
saw my surprise revealed! We were about to see The One Man Star Wars Trilogy!
     For the next hour, we listened and laughed as geeky comedian Charlie
Ross reenacted the original Star Wars movies on an empty stage, doing
character voices, sound effects, music, and inside jokes. I had tears
of laughter running down my cheeks by the end. It was the perfect
birthday present. I know the Star Wars movies backward and forward,
and Sarah knows well my geeky obsession with them. That was the best
part of the gift, I think. She knows I love surprises, knows I'm
always running late, knows I'm a Star Wars fanatic. The being known
meant as much as the experience itself. Sarah is also someone who
knows how selfish and petty I can be, who has been snapped at when I'm
in a bad mood, who has taken care of me when I was sick. Isn't that
what all of us want -- to know that someone else cares enough to learn
who we are, from the trivial quirks to the shameful secrets, and still
stay with us? It is my deepest desire, if I'm honest. My heart
flutters with longing when I read Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13:12,
"Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been
fully known." I am thankful for the few friends who truly know me,
hopeful that one day I will know and be known by a husband, and
praying that in God my deepest desire finds it deepest answer.


"I was a stranger and you invited me in."  Matthew 25:35

     People normally don't invite strangers into their homes.  Strangers are people you have never met, never talked to,  never laid eyes on.  And yet...
     This week we are in Austin, Texas, apartment shopping for our youngest daughter who will be attending graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin in the fall. (Hook 'em Horns!)  My extroverted, well-networked husband sent out a plea on Facebook to all his friends in Texas for any help in locating an apartment.  We received lots of helpful advice and one amazing offer.  
     One of Don's friends contacted another friend, an Austin local, to ask for advice.  That wonderful artist friend not only offered a potential apartment site, but also invited us to stay at her house while we visited Austin and looked around.  She and her family planned to be gone during the days we were in Texas and offered us the use of her charming art-filled home in the historic Hyde Park district...that is, if we wouldn't mind feeding the cat while we were here.  We were strangers with at least two degrees of separation.  We had never met and communicated only by email.  
      A friend of a friend offered her empty house, wi-fi password,  and even instructions for the coffee pot. She welcomed us into a home away from home.  Hopefully, on a later visit to Austin, we will meet, maybe have dinner and become friends.  But for, now, we were weary travelers and a stranger invited us in. 


Lean Forward

"Lean forward into your life... Just tip your feathers a wee bit and see how dramatically that small lean can change your life."
                                                                      -Mary Anne Radmacher
     I like to meditate on visual images, particularly ones in nature that keep reappearing on my path. For the past two weeks, that image has been sunflowers. I was delighted to find a vase of them at Sea Biscuit Cafe on the Isle of Palms, where I like to sneak off on some early mornings when I'm on that side of town. They are so bright and cheery, brash and bold, dominating wherever they are. 
     I like how they catch me unexpected, their tall size allowing them sneak peeks over fences.  
     I like how they lean into the light and seek out the light. They remind me that my day will go down in great part based on how I orient myself to the light.
     I like how the spirals of seeds in the sunflower heads feel soothing to me.             Mathematicians study them with their special pattern of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence. I just like how ordered and calm everything seems at their center.
     Mostly, I like how they remind me to just be happy - the way, before worry and/or the daily grind dominates a day, we were created to be.


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