Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Stories Among Us

--

It is quite impossible to spend time in San Francisco without seeing the unusual. Donuts and Chinese Food? Why not? It is a city where oddity is normal, a place where spectacle is commonplace and a slightly magical land where stories on two feet walk freely among the skyscrapers and pass you on the street like a storybook parade of characters. This, like all cities, is a display of contrasts where breathtaking beauty and wretched, hellish ugliness live side by side, where extraordinary wealth and desperate poverty rub shoulders every day without surprise.

Despite the fact that I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, and for most of that time have lived less than 25 miles (as the crow flies) from this world famous city, it always feels like an adventure to go there. The skyline and the city itself have hosted countless TV shows and movies and I have grown so familiar with it through those stories I always kind of feel like I'm meeting a superstar celebrity for the first time--a little bit surprised that it exists for real. Last week, after perhaps a year away, I went to San Francisco, or "The City" as it's known around the Bay, twice in the same week. Both trips were exercises in story-seeing.

Some stories are unutterably tragic. The lady with only half her clothes, a hospital bracelet on one wrist, and food she couldn't quite keep in her mouth to eat--why was she out, fending for herself when clearly she can't? Another man shuffled along the sidewalk ahead of us, apparently unaware of much around him except what was on the ground along the fence--every discarded banana peel, each empty matchbook cover drew his attention and caused him to fixate on it, feeling the need to repeatedly press it flat with his foot. It took him an awfully long time to go very far.

Other stories were exciting and full of promise, like the students at the culinary school we visited. They had big dreams and creative ideas, and the fabulous food they were artfully and skillfully preparing made everyone in the building pleasantly full and quick to laugh!

There was the young man at Pier 39, holding his newborn daughter, still a little tentative about it like he thought she might break if he didn't do everything just right.

There was the saxophone player, playing his heart out for a transient and fickle audience, hoping they would like what they heard enough to buy a CD or to toss some money in the bucket at his feet--some did.

There was the group of teenage girls, distributed between two crowded and over-burdened pedicabs, giggling and squealing and greeting everyone they passed like long lost friends! It was clearly a fun party and it seemed to make them love everyone they saw.

There were young families, couples in love, salesmen delivering their best pitches, the parking attendant with his huge roll of money who wanted to be paid before we parked, and our excellent and experienced waiter at the restaurant at the Pier who wanted so much to help us make Drummer Boy's 21st birthday special. He succeeded!

The stories sometimes seem more dramatic, more colorful, more extreme and surprising in San Francisco, but the fact is, each and every one of us, and each and every person we meet is a story. God knows each and every story word for word, line by line, page by page and chapter by chapter. He knows each story line, every nuance of plot and character, the tragedies and the triumphs, the conflicts resolved and the conflicts raging, the dreams chased, the dreams dashed and the dreams come true.

He knows and He cares.

He both reads our stories and writes His story on our hearts . . . if we'll let Him. He misses nothing about us or our stories! The best part is, no matter what the story looks like here on earth, He offers a triumphant, happy-ever-after ending to everyone who will hand Him the pen.

"Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day."

Have you met any stories lately?
Who holds the pen in your life's story?

________________________________

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1338-1358 (April 22nd through April 28th)

22. 3 gifts close
Hero Husband's face when he kissed me good morning
Pillows that cradled me in Sabbath rest
My pen tablet that helps me do so many things with such ease and comfort!
23. 3 gifts reflecting
Reflections of our movements through busy days in the big mirror in the living room
The way I can "see" the front door from the kitchen by looking at the reflection on the glass of the tulip picture on the living room wall
Crescent moon
24. 3 gifts fragile
Egg shells
Ice crystals as I got to see them on an episode of Frozen Planet
People--though God has made us amazingly resilient, we are all invisibly marked "Handle with care."
25. A gift cloth, steel, wood
Denim, the stretch kind
A whimsical and strange structure we saw from the BART train at an unexpected delay in Berkeley
The bench along the window at Peet's
26. 3 gifts moving
The fan blade that cools me off when I'm too warm (most of the time)!
The soaring and beautifully moving music of Il Volo--perfect for when I'm doing schoolwork!
Me, on the treadmill most days this week--progress!!
27. 3 gifts "ugly beautiful"
That I am old enough to be the mother of a 21-year old son today! =)
The incessant noise of what we affectionately call "the City," San Francisco--it makes a particular kind of music if you really listen
The garish, the strange, the ultra-rich, the ultra-poor, the artistic, the driven, the mixed-up, the hapless, the helpless, and the broken--the people you see in San Francisco, all of them loved by God
28. 3 gifts orange
California poppies everywhere I look!
Shredded carrots that made a quick salad with lunch
Giant-sized navel oranges I saw at the grocery store today


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