One of the reasons I adore Twitter so much, is that I make connections with people I might not have otherwise met in real life!
That isn’t profound or anything, but there’s beauty in the simplicity.
I was hanging out on Twitter on Friday night, when a Timber’s supporter I follow, Mike, retweeted this:
I don’t want to be all “I told you so,” but…. Twitter really is wonderful in this regard. I immediately went looking for more details, and what I discovered was Ne Si’Ka. Which takes the conversation to a whole new level of beautiful.
Ne Si’Ka is a Portland based initiative raising money to create a “pay as you go” restaurant that both confronts hunger and food insecurity as well as fosters a greater sense of community.
The goal is to create a completely non-biased and comfortable atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable and has a seat at the table with food and family. Our broader intention is to create and foster a greater sense of community while we help alleviate hunger and food insecurities. via Ne Si’Ka
So, right about now, though, you’re wondering about that scarf. I was too, so I did some emailing and James, the Director of Operations for Ne Si’Ka, was quick to fill me in on the details. It turns out, they have a wonderful volunteer named Rhonda. I’m going to call her Saint Rhonda and you will too when you hear this: she’s making these scarves. By hand. And only charging $20. And then donating the proceeds to Ne Si’Ka
I cannot get my thumbs to talk to my fingers more than just to type, so I cannot imagine being able to knit something (or is it crochet) like this. Much less, be willing to make them for pure strangers!
And that’s when this whole thing just explodes with beauty. Because, when you buy one of these scarves from Rhonda, you are not only supporting Ne Si’Ka and its mission to feed people and build community: you’re FULFILLING it. You are no longer a stranger to Rhonda. And what she gives to the world, well, you’ll be wearing it. That makes you connected. Through the internet. Via people you don’t know. From the vastness that is Twitter. Mind Blown.
These are tiny connections — but these tiny connections are the foundations of the change that is desperately needed. Oregon is a hungry state. Those of you who read Mireio regularly know how close to my heart these issues are. Any chance I get to speak out on preventing hunger and food insecurity: well, I’m going to use my voice to do.
But now you’re tired of hearing me talk… and want to know, “How can we buy that scarf, already!?” You’ll need to email Rhonda directly. She can then invoice you via Paypal. She’s not set up a button, because these scarves do require work and she wants to make sure she can actually fulfill your order before taking your money.
You can also support Ne Si’Ka by making a donation directly on their website. And, of course, someday in the future, we can all meet up for a meal and a lively conversation.
Mystery Package of Needles
Last week, a package arrived from Amazon. In it, 10 packages of Organ Needles. (100 needles total!) Here’s the thing, we didn’t order any sewing needles. It was our name on the envelope. Our address. But, there wasn’t any record on our bank account that we had placed an order.
We called Amazon and said as much. After giving them every number we could find on the package and offering to ship the needles back, we were told, “Keep them. We have no idea who ordered them or even how to process that return.” IZ handed me the box and asked if I could use them? We hadn’t opened the box yet, so I had no idea. But, and you know this is coming right?, they turned out to be the exact size of needles I use in my machine.
And here’s the other thing: just the day before I had been lamenting to IZ, concerned over my ability to keep the store stocked and the progress (or lack there of) that I was making.
“Wow, these are perfect!”
“Looks like the Universe is trying to tell you to keep moving forward!”
Looks that way to me too.
Still a little weepy with gratitude.
Sometimes, God can surprise and delight you. But I’ll be honest, lately–that hasn’t felt true. It’s been all those cliches about hard-times around here: roller coasters. Deep water. High tides. Creek–no paddle. If it can go wrong, it has. If it hasn’t, give it time. I don’t talk about it, because I just don’t have time to stop and cry. Is that a good thing?
But yesterday was one of those moments — where grace breaks through despite the overwhelming odds against it and you find yourself humbled by your place in the world and the love that is in it. Our family attended a lovely worship service at First Lutheran of Astoria where the congregation presented a quilt to our graduating son.
You should know, we’re not Lutheran and we don’t attend that church. Geo volunteers at their Day Camp in the summer and attends the youth group when he has a chance. Their youth group used to meet on Wednesdays–on the same night their church holds a community dinner. So, Geo has spent time getting to know that congregation. But we’re not a regular part of their orbit beyond that.
He’s separate. Different. He knows that. It was born out yesterday as all the youth from youth group sat together in the back of the church. He sat with his parents toward the front. A visual divide that I know he felt physically — especially since we had given a ride to church to one of those kids. It’s not that he’s not liked. It’s that he’s not a part. This isn’t his home church. He doesn’t go to school with these kids. He hasn’t journeyed with them or made memories with them. And to his credit, he’s too polite of a child to abandon his parents at church. He feels this otherness on a daily basis–and while I think he handles it with grace and gentleness, it breaks my heart. I think it breaks his too.
So, it came as quite a surprise that he would be included in this ceremony. He was overwhelmed by the invitation–and I’ll admit, it took some talking into to get him to attend. It’s not that he didn’t want a quilt–or didn’t love this congregation. He just didn’t feel like he deserved one.
The enormity of what he’s done is finally hitting him. He is nostalgic and keenly aware that life is changing–rapidly. He is also deeply moved by the love represented by that quilt. Each student was invited to pick-out which quilt they wanted ahead of time. We just happened to go select his on a day when the women were actually sewing. Many of those women, unknown to me, knew who he was and how he’s volunteered. “He’s so great with those kids! We just love him! He’ll still be around to volunteer this year, right?”
It’s a refrain we heard a lot yesterday–as people from that congregation made their way to congratulate us. Over and over again we were told how much they love him. How they have prayed for him. How they will continue to pray for him. How Geo is polite and caring and so good with kids. How they are impressed with his accomplishments. “You’ve raised such a wonderful son.”
And as our son stood, to receive his quilt and words of blessing were said by his youth leader, he began to cry. Quiet tears slipped down his face and he could not hide the unmistakable tremor he gets when he’s fighting back emotion. He finally turned and faced away from the congregation, and I think everyone in that room could feel for his struggle. This meant something to him–in ways that he still has not found words for.
But I suspect, even though he will attend a graduation ceremony for his GED on Thursday, it is this ceremony that means something to him. Where the other students will walk to “Pomp and Circumstance” played by their High School bands — in caps and gowns and speeches given by their peers. . . he will not. This is the downside of the path we chose: it lacks certain markers. Prom. Senior pictures. Graduation. Georges will tell you that he is not bothered by the lack. That the trade-off was worth it. But we all crave the recognition we deserve; the moments of celebration, where our communities tell us we are loved and honored and that they are PROUD of us.
Yesterday, he had that moment. Surrounded by love and a community of more than three, he had a moment where he knew just how loved and special and wonderful he is. It may not have been a commencement ceremony–but it was a sending forth. A blessing. And while I know Geo was chagrined to find himself overwhelmed by his own emotion: I also know that his tears were a natural response to being surprised and delighted by the abundant grace of God. It’s a natural response to encountering the enormity that is God’s Love.
So, he stood. Bathed in prayer, surrounded by love, swaddled in a quilt; he cried. And we cried with him.