It’s A Real Place

I decided to take the scenic route home, today.

On my way from Greenlake to Rainier Beach, I passed through downtown Seattle, China Town, Columbia City, and Hilman City. Some things I passed on the way that  grabbed my attention:

The man, the legend, Mark Driscoll

driscoll

Before I moved to Seattle, I had no idea who this guy was. After I moved to the Emerald City, a friend asked if we could go to Mark’s church for good Friday service, and my reaction was “Mark who?” I’ve never been one to spend time and energy searching out contemporary preachers and evangelists; Joel Olsteen’s smile was like swallowing a mouthful of sugar, and something about Rob Bell’s eyes and manner of speech made me uneasy– there was something going on behind them that didn’t quite match up, like he was making something too easy and complicated at the same time. And most of the time there’s a reason why men grow to be famous. Every time I sit in service at a mega church, I wonder to myself, alright. What kind of white bread are we going to be served today? 

But I’ve since learned more about him, and even though I’m not entirely on board with the massive scale church model, having had some first hand run-ins with MH burnouts, he’s surprisingly grounded. Sure, it’s dangerous when thousands of people gather to witness one man preach and not because they’re seeking opportunities to serve their fellow sisters and brothers in Christ, to build the Church body, but somehow he wins you over. Maybe it was the t-shirt he sported with the virgin Mary that said, “Mary is my Homegirl,”  or perhaps it’s his evident sensitivity, respect and love for women, or even his boldness to hold men and husbands accountable for their relationship with their families as spiritual leaders. And then, most importantly, there’s the powerful command he has of the Scriptures. And maybe it’s the weathered quality of his words, like he’s been and seen it all- I live only blocks away from his childhood neighborhood, and I understand his stories. I get the rawness, the depravity.

As I passed by the library,

Danger, Will Robinson.

Danger, Will Robinson.

choosing not go in because pretty much every visit ultimately turns into a 40 dollar overdue fines collections envelope on my doorstep, I was suddenly presented with this epic building:

MH-old-B-W-38

On the side is the permanent inscription, First United Methodist Chuch. New banners now proclaim the installation of Mars Hill.

MH-old-color-6

Stunning, is it not? Let’s pray that the worship offered inside is as beautiful as the vessel which contains  it.

So I continued on what turned out to be an epic journey. Sometimes I forget why I always take I5, and then I remember- it’s so I don’t grow old and senile in my car singing Killing me Softly with the Fugees. That’s why.

Next was China town. Shops full of fruits and vegetables, rice cookers, whole roasted ducks hanging by their necks, french pastries,  dilapidated used tire centers, lucky waving cats, Buddhas, statues and idols reflecting bright red and gold stacked to cover the window from flow to ceiling. My friend, Patrick, and I went out to eat Pho, pronounced ‘fuh’ (I know), in the international district a few months back. It looked sketch, like most places in Chinatown (there’s a pet store in an ally I’ve always wanted to check out), but it had gotten good reviews. It was delicious.

Literally the biggest image I could find.

Literally the biggest image I could find.

Patrick, who lives in Portland (a place Mark Driscoll claims is so white it probably only sells white bread), remarked, “I was walking up the street to find this place, and I realized I was the only white person I here.” That made me laugh. Rainier Valley is home to the most ethnically diverse community in the US, and I’ve enjoyed living in a place that helps curb my hunger and anxiousness to travel the world.

And another reason I love living where I live? Why, it’s because I can always satiate my cravings for marijuana.

Healing herbs? Sounds wonderful.

Healing herbs? Sounds wonderful.

I can’t tell you how many dispensaries are littered throughout Seattle, how many I passed on my way home, because they have become as the Israelites; like the stars, you cannot number them. Heck, there’s one half a mile from my house. I can start out my mornings with a run to the pot house and be back with brownies before breakfast. And in case you ever need a guide to pick out the best ones, Seattle’s here to help:

At last, a guide.

At last! A guide.

Like we’re not easy going enough. The last thing the Pacific Northwest needs is pot. One of my profs from Bible school was from Pennsylvania, and he flat out told us he was put off by the chill, ‘hang out dude’ attitude of the West coast. Where he was from people had things to do, and they did them. Apparently we just don’t have enough things to do over here. Obama can put that on the top of his check list: “Give West-coasters something to do.” Maybe I’ll write him a letter about that.

Denoting or relating to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law.

Denoting or relating to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law.

Oh, Halaal markets. Buildings the size of closets packed with everything you need for life.

I see these places and things while driving down a street called Martin Luther King Jr. Way, because there’s a large enough African American population for that name to actually mean something. A far cry from the bland Corvallis I grew up in, or from the entire state of Oregon, for that matter. Seriously. Where I live there are a lot of Muslims. A lot of people from places like Ethiopia and Somalia. One of the guards at the museum I worked at was from Somalia, pressed to leave country of birth his because of the escalating violence. When we (museum) catered for big companies like Microsoft, we’d always end up having to prepare separate Kosher and Halaal meals. Men wear tunics that reach past their knees, women cover all but their face and hands. Sometimes all I want to do is pull over in my car and tell them how they can be covered by the perfect love of Jesus.

I’ve enjoyed Ethiopian cuisine, and it was quiet tasty — but the injera made it’s presence known in my stomach. *sigh* Bread, you coy thing. You’re always keeping yourself just out of my reach.

injera1

Yes, please. I’ll take all of it.

And soon I was on the home stretch, and to my left I spied a place Rainier Beach can truly be proud of:

And yes, folks, it’s very much a real place. Excellent donuts, tasty teriyaki, and so far I’ve managed to clean all my clothes at home, so I can’t put in a good word where the laundromat is concerned. But that’s okay with me.

And then I was home!

Day 30 (Giving thanks)

My brother, John, wrote this shopping list for my mom.

At first I tried to figure out why olives are at the very top because who needs olives for Thanksgiving? People kept talking about it all day, and I couldn’t figure out why, and they told me it was just because people like…olives. People that are not me. But I’m glad they’ll make somebody happy.

And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what MS meant. MS? The disease. What?

“Maple Syrup,” John said matter-of-factly.

Maple Syrup will forever in my heart be called MS. Forever.

And as I admired the interesting doodles that accompanied ‘the list,’ and I listened to the Christmas music my dad holds off from playing until November (Oh, Nate King Cole. I will be yours truly, always), and made pie, and found myself in the middle of a mini LaBrasseur Family Reunion, losing to my 8 year old brother at chess, winning against my 18 year old brother at Peggle, laughing hard with my sister (who’s one of the only people that gets me), and welcoming said sister’s fiance into the huddle as I challenged him to eat three mandarins simultaneously, which he accomplished with aplomb (not), and at fudge and ice cream, and played backgammon with my old man, prayed with my mom…

What is there to be said when words cannot suffice? How do I articulate such intangible things as receiving a hug from your big brother, or pressing out pie crusts with your dad, and being happy? Life hasn’t been easy this past year. I could fill tomes with my words, but they need not be said. No one needs to read those; they need to know that God is good, and that he loves us– that I’m waiting to go home. To enter the gates of Glory where God will catch all my tears in palms that could contain all the oceans, call me by name with a voice that birthed the stars in the heavens, and come home.

But, for today, I can wait.

We will shop for olives and Maple Syrup, play endless games of Apples to Apples, and we will wait. And today I will find joy in the gift of a thankful heart.

Day 20 (Cookies)

I have commaitis.

It’s when you use so many commas you barely even see them anymore. It’s quite terrible. It makes you sound like you’re trying too hard. It’s like putting too many walnuts in your chocolate chip cookie. It’s like that horrible mound of crisco frosting Cosco smothers their cupcakes with. It’s like when you wake up covered in sweat because you’re buried under a gazillion blankets. It seemed to be a good idea at 10pm; 2am is a different matter. Perspective.

So I’m going to make it up to all of you who have weathered the storm.

Bam. My very favorite cookie recipe. I’m the girl that has spent hours perusing the internets looking for that perfect recipe. I found it. Now it’s yours.

Enjoy.