Thursday, July 30, 2015

Art of Conversation

I tucked into one of my favorite local thought spots to write a letter this morning. Another woman was across the big common table from me, diligently tikka-takking away on her keyboard. She looked up, smiling, as a I sat down. I smiled back and we both ducked into the thick of our writing.

Until a guy several tables away let a gigantic sneeze storm through his whole being.

She hung her head, shaking and laughing. "That's got to feel so good!" she said. We both cracked up and exchanged light conversation which ended when she packed up and left with "Good luck with your work!" It was so simple and genuine an interaction. Lovely, really.

I made my way down the street to the office where I dropped off the letter and headed back via the public library. I went in to use the restroom...which happens to be located beyond the quick pick mystery shelves... which usually manage to draw my attention away from whatever my original intent. Standing there, studiously tilted, was another reader. A reader who sighed when removing a volume and said "I've read it already...but it was so awfully good..." I noticed what she had in her hand and said "Oh! If that's the sort of thing you like, have you read..." and I pulled a couple off the shelf. We launched into a short excursion across time and continents, recommending books to one another. She snapped photos of covers and I wrote down an author's name before parting on a "Thanks! Have a good rest of your day!" Again, really basic stuff, but an honest human connection and engaging conversation.

I needed to get a birthday card for a community member before returning home so I stopped in the bookstore. Found the card, poked around, and went to pay. I pulled out some coins and noticed that what remained in my change pouch would be just enough to cover an ice cream in the public gardens sometime this week. I made mention of this to the guy helping me who said "Isn't that a nice treat now and then?? Do you remember the Dairy Queen on the corner up here?...." And we were off onto summer expeditions from years earlier...including the shared memory of eating home made ice cream and helping by sitting on the board across the top while an adult churned." Our time together lasted no longer than five to seven minutes but has lingered brightly all day long.

As I walked the last blocks home, I kept thinking about the grace of the conversations I had today...and how much they meant to me because they were so simple, so kind, so honest and uncomplicated and engaging. Each time, our common humanity was recognized and enriched. Enriched by joy, by spontaneity, by connection, by recognition.

... Sigh ...

Giving thanks is a great way to go to sleep this evening.





Friday, July 24, 2015

Back from Away

I have been away for a short while. I still had with me the tools of technology I employ for writing...pen, paper, IPad...but nonetheless, there has been a refreshing pause in posting much until now.

I left home July 4th to head to McAllen, Texas, at the U.S/Mexico border, to work with two of my sisters on a leadership program for 42 engaged and committed young adults who live in the surrounding colonias and who are a part of ARISE, A Resource in Serving Equality, an organization in the Rio Grande Valley, founded by Sister of Mercy Gerrie Naughton in 1987. Over the week during which we flowed freely between English and Spanish, the young adults were taken through the process of project development as they created programs they were prepared to take back to their local centers and implement. Goal setting, resource analysis, public speaking, budgeting, and needs assessment, are all a part of the workshop which has the tag line, Leadership is Action, not Position.

This is my second summer helping out with this program. As I learn more, grow both more comfortable with it and more challenged to learn from it, and am inspired by the tremendous commitment of the young adults to effect positive change on a local, personal, level, my soul is nourished.

A dear and wondrous friend came to the McAllen central bus terminal in order to ride together back to her community. These were two days of pure joy...two days of knowing the nearness of someone who loves me as I am, for who I am, with whom there are conversations about everything and nothing. Two days of seeing and experiencing her world. Two days of grace and deep mutuality. The visit was short...too short, on many levels...yet also a concentrated gift that I wouldn't have wanted to miss for anything.

From there onto Saint Louis, where I met with a group of friends with whom I used to teach and celebrated our friendship with rounds of laughter and an all too brief catching-up. The day after my evening arrival was the opening of a five day Assembly and Chapter of the United States-Canada Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart. 236 people, 180 or so RSCJ, and much conversation about future directions and ways of organizing ourselves.

Many, many, people commented on what they saw as "my new look." In part, that was because I wore a skirt one day--a skirt I actually like, because it is comfortable, suits me in its cut, and has a pattern that reminds me of Matisse's cut out leaves. Slightly funky, well fitting, and suitable for me. Others commented on the colors of my, rose, purple... On one hand, I suppose I can understand their comments...On the other, I couldn't help but think, this is not "a new look." This is Me. Perhaps it is a new "seeing" that circumstance and personal freedom have allowed to happen.

Then, home again. Home with a sigh for the joy of it and another sigh for missing some pieces of these last weeks. Home with gratitude and home with a full heart that knows what it is to be loved and to love in return, with a grounded heart that seeks to not bother trying to be anything but who I am called to be, and allowing that self to be seen because I can not contain it.

Amen...thanks be to God.