I’ve had a week of weirdness. Unrelated things and people converged. Like heavily collided. Like the Universe has picked me up, moved me a second and set me back in the exact same but more aware-ly connected place; same space.
Yep, I’m gonna vague the details. Broadly, though, I was up until 1:00 AM last night plunking keys trying to connect the linear lights, random thoughts and rigid letters into a sphere of a story.
I tried an hour of editing. Tried to respectfully cloak it in anonymity. You know – so the players won’t know. Tonight’s tweaking didn’t take it to where it truly needed to be. So, it’s still incubating and I’m not letting it go. Yet. Be kind to me. I’m still so up on it, 24 hours later. Hoppy, happily awed at the alignment.
Goose bump similar, going/coming back. Retro. I’m in it like 2007, when a series of well-planned, well-placed God-smack coincidences sent me missioning to New Orleans with 49 strangers. Yeah, it’s like that. He’s got a plan and I’m waiting for it, excited. I’m going somewhere. Maybe only metaphysically. Maybe long haul. Maybe temporary. Maybe anything…
Hyped-up; like downing a mega-coffee specialty cuppa on an empty stomach, at midnight. Sort of odd since I’m off coffee on doctor’s orders. Glad, I unknowingly had that last fling with the Cola-Cola concoction.
It’s day 5 of nothing from a cow, nothing with gluten. I’m the way opposite of withdrawal. Go figure.
Comically, I scrolled into a Starbuck’s “Want!” inducing ad. Pistachio. Latte. So desirable, I may have whimpered, but since Nala-Lala thought I was talking to her, I’m gonna go with that. Hey, Universe – do your thing. Make that potentially tasty run last a little while. Please.
Make this run last a little while, too, please. Something’s happening here, and it feels so good.
On October 13, 2020, I told you this: Last week, someone I don’t know said something that changed everything.
There’s been a change in the playlist.
The internet loves challenges like I love music. It thrives on them. It discovers dozens each day. But, only a few are worth it.
Mmmm. Like this one. #blueoctober #movingon #challenge .
I prefer not to start in the middle, but in this case, urgence of participation (gasp) makes sense.
I’ve had the wrong song in my #1 will-do spot for decades. Not my fault.
The right song hadn’t been written, yet. Now, it has.
Moved out of the first slot: I’m Moving On.
I believe in this song. For many years, it’s been an anthem excuse of self-promising, a someday in-waiting. Not an action wanting.
A melancholy sing along, every time, where I want the words to be real. A prelude to the reach, wanting lets me waltz. Feelings play along with well-curated reels in my mind. I can picture it, but I can’t do exactly that.
Now seen for what I really want it to be: the after, the explainer. Not every line is perfect. Some are so false that I’ll address them, later.
Moving into First Place: Moving On, though, is a rearranger – an artfully arranged mind-matter mover with an oddly perfect, happy melody.
Brought to me by Tuesday Night Recovery. Live weekly sessions hosted by Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October, featuring steps and music and supports.
Yes, plural. Discussions, viewer comments, one-day-at-a-time preaching. I have no idea how I got God-smacked into this mecca of inclusive anonymous help, where my anti-social not-group-joining self can join-in and be communed, but unobserved.
If it hadn’t been explained, I never would have though it to be what it is. To the writer, it’s not a love gone-wrong song. It’s a get-out-of -my-life I am never going back to (insert vice here.) It’s a sterner, angrier, get off of my life, pulling away from the surround, bursting my own bubble song.
Reminded me so much of this. Re-capping, quickly; a grief therapy session, where someone else said something that clicked.
Discussing my already 8-year-old grief. “Sometimes, I can’t keep it in.” I admitted. “It. Just. Wants Out.”
“Well, what do you want?” was the question, asked.
Firmly answered, “I want it gone.” “So,” he astutely concluded. “You and your grief want the same thing.”
I have to move on. I’m not saying goodbye to you or our memories or our friendships or him.
I’m saying goodbye to my crippling 15-year-old cloak in full-on ‘What Not to Wear Style’. It’s coming with a cost though.
An emotionally expensive fear, which I have avoided (or so I thought) until now. Because moving on is terrifying and de-cloaking is soul exposing.
I’ve taken advantage of grief to be comfortable, to exist in solitary. Guaranteeing no furtherly inflicted love or loss.
I have no faith that things will be different in six months.
I have faith that I will be. Different. In six months, when my grief turns 15.
Blue October: two videos, because something worth doing is worth doing, again and again. One of them will speak to you. I’m sure.
There are at least six, solid, Biblical references regarding meatballs.
“Hi, we were wondering…”
I received a significant, mid-week invitation from a dear, don’t-get-to-see-often, friend. It was one of those jump-to-it, second-chance, “you don’t want to miss this,” opportunities. The last time I rode along became a scary freeway ice-dancing event featuring sliding cars, sudden lane-swerving, and frightening brake pumping. A few near-accidents in, a committee of concerned participants made the reluctant decision to head home before reaching our destination. It was a hard call to make, because individually and as a group, we don’t take volunteering lightly. In this case, it was clear a no-show would have serious consequences, but the severity of the travel conditions could not be ignored.
That’s how a recent early Saturday morning found me munching a Clif protein bar, hanging in the far parking lot of Sam’s Club, waiting on another ride.
In mission work there are sometimes great gaps of knowledge. This one wasn’t much of a mystery. We knew where we were headed, and what we would do. Still, the informational brochure I was handed filled in a lot of unknown blanks in my perception of the project. The impressive scale of Cass Community Social Services in Detroit is something to behold. The volunteer schedule is equally as impressive.
The Saturday kitchen schedule was filled by a church confirmation class from Alpena, a church youth group from Northville, the Detroit chapter of One Brick, some Michigan State-ers on spring break, and a women’s church group from Tecumseh. It started off slowly, but at one point I counted 24 people in the kitchen.
We had arrived believing we would be making sandwiches, and left not having made a single one. The new first order of kitchen business was slicing semi-frozen flanks of meat. The first problem I encountered was a lack of latex free gloves. By default, I became the dishwasher.
A volunteer named Bobby, who has been washing dishes at Cass for 9 years, so far, demonstrated the basics. Food down this shoot; rinse, load, fill, sanitize, stack, and re-shelve. I really wanted a bit more instruction from Bobby, but he wasn’t inclined to give it. He walked away and I proceeded to process dishes, utensils, pots and pans for two hours straight. Bobby would fly by every once in a while, saying the same thing, “You’re doin’ alright!”
During one of those passes, another volunteer pointed to my cleaning stash and requested an aluminum scrubbie. When I turned for it, Bobby was in my way, so I asked him to please hand it over. He didn’t. “The scrubbie,” I reiterated, thinking perhaps he hadn’t heard my quiet voice in the ruckus. He just stood there, shaking his head at us. I tried again, carefully explaining and renaming the item, “She would like that scouring pad, please.” Finally, he cracked a semi-smile and pointed behind her. There, at the exact spot where the question had originated, in a rather obvious place, was another one.
In those two minutes, my pile had grown to overflowing the staging-space allotted to dirty items. but went back to work with a conquer-this-mountain attitude. Eventually, I was relieved of dish duty. I didn’t want to be relieved, but Miss Lonetta – head cook, kitchen orchestrator/coordinator, menu planner – insisted. She handed me two bowls with bananas, oranges, and grapes, pushed open a door and told me to go sit outside. A few minutes later, I became the fruit sharer, offering fruit and fresh-air seats to the also forced-to-take-a-break cooking crew.
The beef slicers also chopped a lot of broccoli and garlic, grated carrots and cheese, made rice, cracked dozens of eggs, and melted butter. From 9:00 AM until Noon, the principles hustled us along. It was about then that some of the volunteer shifts had ended. There were only about 6 of us left. Lonetta told me to go grab some parchment paper, and pointed in the general direction supplies. I wasn’t exactly sure where to look, but eventually I spied, grabbed, and delivered.
Then she wanted to know why I wasn’t making meatballs, with the few remain-ers who were also running out of time. I explained about the latex, and she gleefully cried. “Grab an apron and suit up!” One of the volunteer groups had shown up with a box of latex-free gloves. On my first grab, it was interesting to discover my right hand was reluctant to roll anything. It was sorely sore from squeezing the hand-held faucet. Still, I did my best with the sticky stuff. Out of 500 meatballs needed, jumping in at the last minute, I probably rolled somewhere around 50.
During the course of the morning and early afternoon, Lynetta changed her meal plan three times while we were prepping. Due to a lack of peppers, Pepper Steak turned into Steak ala Cass, which is actually pepper steak minus peppers, plus onions and mushrooms. Ten trays of garlic bread were prepped for the oven. For the most part, those who come for Cass meals, don’t eat vegetables if they’re presented as a side. Miss Lonetta devised a way to sneak them in. Meatballs were beefed up with carrots, broccoli, and onion, and stretched with crumbs, eggs and cheese. At the last minute, we learned a vegetarian entry would also be needed. We reviewed ingredients available, put our thinking caps on, and came up with a very improvised veggie stir-fry.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: each person’s mission experience will differ. I can’t say this is an accurate reflection for anyone else but me, but, the 30-second do-this dishwashing brief, the here’s-two-bowls-go-sit-outside directive, and the frantic search for parchment were unnerving in a successful, hyped-up sort of way. There is something to be said for being available and able to fumble around, change directions, and do whatever has to be done. It brings a little self-pride, a little coping confirmation, and an absolutely miniscule idea of what may be expected next time.
My unofficial three-part summary of Cass Kitchen philosophy:
Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out-do one another in showing honor.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
I never fessed up because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take away the meaning they’d assigned.
What I’d said was, “Five years ago today was the happiest day of my life. Today is the second happiest day of my life, because I can see how very much (emotional throat glitch) he was loved.”
From what I’ve been told, miss-hearings varied from, “how very much Jesus loved him,” to how very much Jesus loves us.”
Our United Methodist Church Pastor was one of the misunderstandees. His own throat-closing confession to an entire sanctuary of mostly unknown-to-him funeral attendees that the decision not to marry Jeff and me was the greatest regret of his ministry career, sealed my lips.
Shortly thereafter, the minister invited everyone to fellowship after the conclusion of the celebration of life for Jeffrey Korte. But, before the dismissing blessing, he also asked if there was anyone who hadn’t had a chance to speak but would like to now.
There was such a complete and awkward silence that if I hadn’t known there were people behind me, I wouldn’t have suspected anyone was there.
Then, it happened.
In a 100% Jeff moment, his picture leapt off the communion rail and tumbled over backwards. The people murmured, the tension broke, and Pastor David took it as a sign.
Paraphrasing, again, it was something that included ‘going’ and ‘eating’ like, “I think Jeff’s sayin’ it’s time to eat,” or “I guess Jeff’s ready to go eat.”
There was laughter and a blessing and then it was over. The funeral had officially ended.
I was advised to stay where I was for a few moments, because there were likely people who would not be joining us at the Masonic Hall who may want to have a word before they left.
So, I stood there, and said thank you and goodbye to some; hello and thank you to others. But, the only ones I remember were the four-in-a-row.
“It gives me great joy that you believe in our Lord and Savior.”
“Jesus was with you up there today and he will continue to be with you.”
“What a testimony to your faith! Jesus loves us -Hallelujah and Amen.”
“Your faith in Christ surpasses mine.”
Then, the witness.
Making our way to cross the church lot, the witness, my mother, spoke.