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 19 (The Batwa Dance)

Do you remember what I wrote last night? While I was in my post-work stupor, feeling sentimental and wistful? I said I wanted to write beautiful things. I wanted my writing to point to beautiful things. I want to write little Batwa boys dressed in oversized, violet blue sweaters in Africa, dancing to the music of his tribe. If I could choose to write something, I would write this. But things like this can hardly be written. It makes my heart skip a beat to fathom all this entails.

Music, God created that. And He created family, and made our bodies capable of dancing, and made our hearts glad at the prospect of doing all of it together at once. He made the desire to know other peoples, the desire that provoked that man to travel across the ocean and film a remote pigmy tribe in Africa.

He made Africans, and He loves them, and I love Him and them.

And every time I think I’m over it, that I’m finally done with the heartache, I discover a rock. So I turn it over and find things underneath. Like this:

Something you should watch

The illustrious Vogelkop Bowerbird. Such little gentleman they are; they soften my heart. Birds have such an eye for beautiful things, and, apparently, a preference. A bird with a preference. They spend YEARS (did you hear me? YEARS) building their cozy, delicately crafted homes. All that just to impress her.

Now, I’m one who tries not to go around anthropomorphizing willy nilly, but I think there’s something here. These little birds reflect something terrifyingly vast and beautiful. If a bird  can appreciate beauty and art, I think it’s everyone’s job to ask ‘why?’ He’s not proving himself to be the most fertile or strong, or even the most intelligent. His display for his love of beauty is what wins him a mate. And I cannot accept that this is a product of random inception, of a cosmos that burst forth simply to reproduce the survival of the fittest.