Yesterday Marji and I committed to a day of self care away from Hollywood. We took the subway to Pasadena and spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Old Pasadena, looking at the shops, and had lunch in a fabulous Italian pizza restaurant.It was a great find! After lunch we took the metro to a Ten Thousand Villages store. Walking into the store was like stepping back into Ohio. My mom manages a small Fair Trade store in my hometown, and so everything felt completely familiar. I knew the music they were playing, found items that I’ve purchased back home, and saw many others that I recognized. It’s ironic, that recycled saris from India, wooden boxes from the West Bank, and African Acoustic music, feels like home. I think it’s a testament to the eclectic influence of cultures in various ways in my home growing up.
After leaving the Fair Trade store, we stopped by a small cafe that sold lemonade; blueberry mint lemonade, guava limeade, apple coconut lemonade, watermelon rosemary lemonade, etc. Sitting outside under an umbrella in the shade, we talked and looked at bus routes until a man at the table next to ours interrupted us. “Excuse me ladies, can I ask you a question?” We were a little surprised, but answered, “sure, go ahead.” He said, “What advice would you give someone who had achieved their dream job, had all the talents and abilities and skill sets to step out and do even more, but was afraid? How do you convince them to step out anyway?” He was referring to one of the young ladies with him, who had the job she’d always wanted, but she was from Spain, and hesitant with her English. She was afraid to try and reach out to others to motivate them to seek out their dream jobs because of her own fears of limitations. Marji and I suggested a few things and I mentioned that our housemate Ahreum was in the United States for the first time. She’s becoming independent by going out on her own, taking the metro to places in Korea town and elsewhere that feel comfortable to her. Marji summed this up by saying, “Find the comfortable in the uncomfortable.” The man completely lit up, asked for her name, and quoted her into his phone recorder. He continuously repeated her words and thanked her for the inspiration. He’s a motivational speaker, he said, and someday he will be using Marji’s inspiration to speak to others.
I left the lemonade cafe with an odd sense of satisfaction. As Dwellers in Hollywood, we have a unique experience that so very few people our age get to have. It gives us the ability to influence and inspire even though it seems like such a simple calling; serve and be served, love and be loved. People have told us many times in these 2 months that we are very brave, and it always surprises me to hear that. I just know that all of us love God deeply, and are willing to follow Him where he calls us. I think that’s faith, which encompasses bravery within itself.
We walked to two parks to finish up our day in Pasadena. I came back from the restroom to find Marji on the swings. I joined her, and we watched the sun setting and the shadows moving through the trees while swinging. Just being.
“Find the comfortable in the uncomfortable.”
My office at work is in the same part of the building as the bunks for our guests in the shelter. There is one gentleman who tends to wander, singing to himself and will often pop into the office and sing to us before going on his way. Another gentleman was reading a book about animals this week and came into the office to show each of us the picture of the prairie chicken, before instructing us to go back to work. These are the small, comical moments that are so full of joy. They aren’t anything I can create, just absorb. And I love that something that’s so uncomfortable to the majority of Americans is something I find life-giving. Not easy, but very life-giving. I wonder where along the way I began to feel more comfortable speaking to the man laying on a pile of newspapers than I do talking to the man whose business donated money so that we can get “those people” off the streets.
And I pray that as the year goes on, I will never stop having the moments during the day when I give thanks for this city that I now call home, and for the people who are showing me love as rich and deep as the love I try to show them.
Find the comfortable in the uncomfortable in every day of your life. Seek out the uncomfortable so that you have a reason to search for familiarity. You will see the face of God.