Melodic strains of song streamed through the atmosphere, slicing through hardened hearts, the familiar words hitting their mark in a poignant new way. Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like you have loved me. A shiver ran through me as the reality of these words I’d heard countless times before sank into the depths of my spirit, still raw from the brokenness I had witnessed only weeks before. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause. I turned to my husband, usually so stoic, and with a shock saw tears endlessly streaming down his face. At the end of the service, as we walked out hand in hand, I asked him what had caused this uncharacteristic show of uncontrolled emotion. He paused a moment before replying, “I was thinking of my baby, and so many abandoned, unwanted babies in the world.”
It’s a tiny bit embarrassing to admit, but even though I have lived in San Diego my entire life, I have explored very little of my own city. To be fair, I relied on my parents to transport me anywhere for most of that time. 😛 So when I discovered a scenic drive all conveniently mapped out for us, I jumped at the chance to play the tourist and see more of our lovely San Diego. Content: Map of the scenic drive Cost: FREE! [unless you want souvenirs, food, and such]
During the rainy month of April, we ventured out into the lush state of Washington for a quick getaway. Discontent to linger in the busier city of Seattle, we instead made our home base on secluded Whidbey Island, about an hour’s drive from that great city. Surrounded by rolling green hills and towering pine trees, with intermittent showers and a moody landscape, we found ourselves at home among the whispering woods, waking to the cacophony of cheery bird songs in the early mornings. We took our slow, sweet time to explore this charming island, untouched by the frenzied environment that defines our usual daily lives. Here, one could breathe deeply, walk slowly, and absorb the ancient wisdom of the trees into our often unsettled minds.
On this day, I saw a boy become a man. I saw a beautiful picture of love worked through long distance [he in California and she in China], differences in background and lifestyles, misunderstandings and personal failures. I saw this love grow and grow, from the seed of infatuation, then permeating the depths of who two people are, then flourishing beneath the rays of mutual respect and commitment. Sometimes I think he’s still seven years old, playing silly pranks on people and giggling to himself with that innocent, happy face he makes. Sometimes it’s hard to believe he’s now an adult, far from the days when he once dogged my footsteps, trying to be included in “big sister’s” circle. And then I witness a moment like this, when the sweetest girl sees the many wonderful qualities this boy possesses, and just loves him so dearly. And I think, what a beautiful thing, to be his sister and to have watched him grow through all these years, and to whisper a blessing of many joys on …
When we travel, we enter into a different dimension—one that peels back the layers veiling our eyes—those layers that tell us our worlds are the only worlds. We bring ourselves—all of our hopes and dreams, disappointments and sorrows—all of our humaneness into a new world. And when we do, we find that though the world is the same, it is we who have changed.
Walking the streets of Shanghai, one may notice the people bustling past in rich garbs of fancy coats, expensive boots, toting quality purses—emblems of their high status in a diverse city. On the same street, an amputee beggar jingles a small bowl of coins in one hand, pulling himself along with the other while his body rests upon a wheeled wooden slab. Within one city lie two divides, two separate worlds that rarely, if ever, intersect. The superrich hurry past without a single glance at the minorities, disabled, and poor mingling along the margins. These are the faceless and voiceless of China.
Endora and I met in the odd, in-between stages straddling childhood and adulthood, when I had already tasted the harshness of the world and begun to shy away from genuine connections. And yet I found myself disarmed by all the bubbly excitement that her exuberant personality holds. I wondered at her sweet innocence, unsure how to respond, but still drawn to the warmth she so readily extends to everybody with open arms.
In recent years, new and hip coffee shops have sprung up everywhere in San Diego. Well, everywhere except our neighborhood, apparently..but anyways.. Discovering new coffee places is always an interesting experience, especially as most try to have some unique trait that sets them apart from all the others. However, it seems to me that Communal Coffee has beaten them all, with their innovative combination of a flower shop within a cafe.
One of our first dates together was cooking a meal at home. Neither of us had much cooking experience at the time, so we decided on a nice, simple pasta recipe. As fragrant smells of basil and tomato sauce filled the kitchen, Michael decided that the recipe didn’t include enough sausage. He heroically took it upon himself to give the rest of the unused sausage some meaning in life by throwing it all into the pasta, nearly doubling the amount the recipe called for. As you may expect, sausage completely overpowered the dish, and I henceforth developed a mild fear of deviating from given instructions, thereby quashing any would-be creativity I may have later discovered in the realm of food-making.
Although I wouldn’t consider myself a photographer by any means, I do take great enjoyment in documenting my life through the lens of a camera. From a young age, I crowned myself the official photo-documenter among my group of friends. Apparently I possessed a talent for capturing people at their least attractive moments [or so they complained lovingly informed me]. Naturally, with the massive pile of photos–literally, and then eventually, digitally–I soon learned the hard way the importance of backing up my photos. Yes, I’m talking about everyone’s worst fear: losing years of pictures due to sudden, violent computer deaths. Huge chunks of my life are now forever lost in the virtual unknown! After two such incidents [yes two, because I clearly didn’t learn the first time], I finally learned this agonizing lesson. I have since developed a system for organizing and backing up photos to protect against unforeseen technical failures: