After the gathering: “The Archaeology of Hospitality”

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I included this poem in a scrapbook created after my daughter’s rite of passage. It is by my friend, Drew Ward, and it captures so eloquently the magical richness of ruminating over gatherings and events evidenced by the artifacts of smudged glasses and dirty dishes.

As we fill up our minds and souls this National Poetry Month with good, nourishing thought-food, may we enjoy this tasty poetic appetizer on the benefits of gathering together:

The Archeology of Hospitality

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

In the early morning light

They stand on the counter like monuments to another time—

Dirty bowls,

Lip-smudged silverware,

Finger-smudged glasses.

Emptying the sink will be an excavation,

A dig through strata of tableware and cooking utensils,

Uncovering relics

Of last night’s brief backyard civilization,

Where a moonlit people

Ate and talked and worshipped,

Laughed and sang and made a world together.

They made alliances of an hour

Or of a glance

Or spanning the precarious epoch of a joke.

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

And though I’m up to my elbows this morning in soapsuds

And the artifacts of a bygone culture,

I smile,

Knowing they are not lost—

They have merely passed out of the door,

But not out of the world.

And Tuesday another great people will arrive

To leave their own indelible mark

Scattering remnants of their habitation

On countertops and coffee tables—

Leaving us forever changed.     —Drew Ward (7/11/06)

 

Beautiful, isn’t it? . . . .

First rite of passage: unwrapping the gifts of mentorship

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Sharon and Ginny amused with a question in the “room of blessing”.

I wholeheartedly believe that in the world of those who live and those who learn, every person has something to offer. There are value-laden opportunities in almost every conversation and around nearly every corner. Mentoring isn’t just about sitting under the bodhi tree of wisdom, it’s also about sharing vulnerable stories about adolescent crushes, demonstrating how to replace a chain on a bicycle, or teaching a kid to cook broccoli. According to dictionary.com, a mentor is really just a “wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Someone who has something to contribute. Someone worthy of trust in a given area, whether it’s quilting or quantum physics.

So in the spirit of mentorship, in preparation for this first rite of passage, I had an assignment for each participant: fill a 4 x 2 inch wooden thrift store Chinese herb drawer with as much wisdom as you can. You can do it with objects, pictures, symbols, words, trinkets, whatever you want, but just make sure each item represents to you something of value to teach Ginny about womanhood.

Simple. Anyone could fill a 4 inch box. Simple, but ultimately, extremely profound. Only each individual could fill a 4 inch box with themselves- the wisdom, insight, enlightenment, and creativity that comes from that singly unique soul. Every stone explained, every word expanded upon, every trinket from today or time past would open up Ginny’s world into the wisdom and inspiration of one soul’s walk on the edges and main thoroughfares of womanhood and humanity. And in doing that, I knew that mentorship could be contained within the perimeter of the palm of a hand, but also leave indelible lifelines.

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the simple, but incredible magical, Chinese herb chest