Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So many stories, so little time

A few days before Easter, I joined a group of people for a "Lenten Morning of Silence." We spent the better part of three hours in silence, in prayer, leaning into the presence of God, before plunging into the darkness of Easter weekend. During break times that morning, I looked around at the gathered group and wondered, "What are their stories? Why did they come here this morning? Where will they go when they leave here? Whose names and faces float into their minds as they pray? What words have they chosen to focus on during prayer?"

Two weeks ago, I attended a going away party for my dear friend, Katie Crowe. It was held in an absolutely magnificent apartment in the downtown area of Charlotte. I have never seen such beauty in one apartment. They have an original Matisse, for goodness sake. Wow! The photo above is of their patio - yes, this is the patio outside of their apartment!!! As I walked around, camera in hand (yes, I took photos of the Matisse and many other works of art on display), I wondered, "What is their story? How did this couple meet? What drew them both into art collection? How did they end up in this apartment in this city?" I heard Vicki, the wife, say, "We both collected art before we met, and we have continued since we got together." How did that happen? How soon can I housesit so I can stare unabashedly at the paintings and sculptures they have carefully amassed?

This photo was taken at approximately 5 am on the morning of Thursday, April 12th. This is the 2nd team of adventurous souls from First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, heading for Bayonnais, Haiti. I was asked to go to the airport that morning to see them off. I was glad to be there, to support them, to hug them, to wave at them once they passed through security, and then spend the next four days praying for their safety and their enjoyment of the journey. Who are these people? Why Haiti? Why now? What did they hope to see, to experience, to learn? Who did they leave behind and what concerns were they carrying with them?

How do we do it, those of us who are parents of tennis players, soccer players, singers, dancers, basketball players, and lacrosse players - just to name a few of our children's occupations? We take our offspring from place to place. We burn countless gallons of gasoline and spend too much on food and hotels and equipment and therapy. Why do we do this? What are our hopes for our children? How many of those hopes are unrealistic? How many of those hopes are not shared by our children? How much do we think about those who are childless or those whose children struggle with the simplest of tasks while we are bragging about our "successful" children? How do we even define success? And what on earth, literally and figuratively, what on earth does it cost us, our children, our families, and our planet, to support the choices we have made for and with our children?

While sitting in Luna's Living Kitchen, waiting for my meal of raw food delicacies, watching the men and women behind the counter juicing some things, chopping other things, putting food on plates, bringing it all out to us, their customers, my mind wanders. I wonder - who are all these people? Who figured out that you can make a ridiculously tasty lasagna but serve it raw, vegan, and cold? What is that woman in the white sweater thinking, the one in the middle of the photo? Who chose the colors that adorn the walls of that brightly lit and inviting place and why? How did all of the people in that room end up in that room at that moment?

Sometimes I am completely blown away by the choreography of our life stories, the bobs and weaves, the hops, skips, and jumps, the circuitous ways in which we meet, we make eye contact, and we speed along on our way. Or we meet, make eye contact, and move towards one another to introduce ourselves. There are so many stories and so little time. Every day, we have to pick and choose whose company we will keep and whose we will bypass.

And this man, this overdressed man standing in a local sandwich shop, had to be photographed. I imagine that I could spend the rest of my life listening to his stories and never be bored. He is, after all, The Most Interesting Man in the World. I don't usually drink beer either, but I suspect that he could persuade me to have one as he regaled me with tales of his adventures. Someday, sir. Someday...

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