Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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Unexpected Grace

I did something unexpected today, and actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. There's an African american Methodist Episcopalian Church, the first African American formed church in Seattle, near 14th and Madison. There were two very sharply dressed African men in the parking lot directing where to park and asking everyone that arrived if they were there for the 11 am service.

We'd gotten a late start. :-) George had done a beautiful job of making pancakes for everyone, and everyone had enjoyed them greatly with lots of yogurt and fruit. So we had an excuse, with five kids and seven adults.

I planned to just stay in the van. Read a little of Walking On Water and knit a little and maybe write a little while they did the service. There was the feeling that they were going to a performance, to see a bit of American craziness by watching a Gospel service in all it's emotional glory. And I hadn't wanted to just *watch*. If I was going to go into a church, I wanted to worship and to go with a sense of my relationship with God. And I wasn't sure I could in what, for me, was historically a Baptist type setting.

But these were Episcopalians?? I was trying to get it to make sense... so instead of sitting in the van, I decided to go in and try to open my heart to this type of Christianity that had so unsettled me for most of my life.

It was uncomfortable for sections of it, but a lot of it was just so *joyful*. So loud and celebratory of a God they loved with all their hearts, knew that they followed imperfectly, but whom accepted and loved them all the same. It was *open* in a way that I've never quite gotten from Protestant services. It was sloppy and things just went with the flow. There was an interpretive dance by a young man who had far more energy and power than grace or polish, but he struck hard at the chords I've held after working so many days at the outreach center. He started out drinking from a bottle and dressed as a street person and saying that he never thought he'd be where he was, that he had a job, had a family, and made some mistakes and some wrong choices. But that he now knew which way he was headed, and he'd keep getting up...

I serve a lot of young people who had made those mistakes and were trying to get their lives back together again. And the road is so rough for so many of them.

Yes. I cried, too. *sigh*

I sang when I could. I clapped until my hands hurt. I got deeply embarrassed when they called people to be disciples of Christ, but listened carefully to the one testified. It is good to simply bare witness.

Jet sat next to Hannah and she took care of him when he got restless. It was inevitable with a two hour service, but they did really, really well.

I felt odd as part of the lily white crowd that didn't raise their hands when asked if they knew they were going to Heaven and didn't raise their hands when asked if they were uncertain if they were going to Heaven. It was off and odd, but it was also kind of good to have "my kind". I don't know about Heaven or Hell anymore. I have a different kind of grace in my life, still led by Christ, but fire and brimstone or little cloudy angel wings don't have anything to do with it. I hoped they didn't take offense, at that point.

But after the service, they all came up to great us and thank us for visiting their church. It was wonderful and warm and they were very kind people. But it was 1pm and we weren't going to subject our six-year-olds to completely strange food in a completely strange place.

Instead we headed to our cars and went further south, to Owajijaya and their food court. There the kids could have hamburgers and fries and Coke or Hawaiian food, or Jet had his plain rice quite happily with a couple packets of soy sauce. I stuffed myself on Kalua pork and Katsu chicken and was very, very, very, happy with that and a Lychee milk tea with lychee jellies in it. Yum. It's been quite a while since I've had a good milk tea, and I was very happy with what I go there. I need to try an make it for myself sometime with the sweetened condensed milk that I have at home.

It was a much needed break for everyone.

From there we headed to REI, amid sun and rain breaks, both. They had some shopping they wanted to do of sleeping bags and jackets and coats. The whole store was having a sale, and it turned out that their stock of Sunday Morning Adventure hats were on sale as well. They're light hats with very wide brims and backs that keep the sun off when rafting. John has had one for a few years, and while I really like my squishable Panama hat, this was so much lighter and rollable that I happily bought one for nearly a third off the usual price.

Jet decided he had to have some double-dipped chocolate macadamia nuts, so I tried to do my best to get him Just One but we managed to get two. He paid his thirty-odd cents to the lady at the cash register. She seemed mildly offended that only my husband had a membership to REI and really thought that I should have one, too. So she gave me one of the applications and told me that I should get one for myself. I thought that was very amusing.

The kids found a play area with slides, trees, and a swing bridge between the platforms, and they had a great time while we were shopping and looking at everything.

From there we headed to the Seattle Center after a brief debate between trying to go there and trying to get to the lake for a swim. The sun was out after a very short, intense rain, so they thought the "good weather" would hold. It didn't. :-) We drove just a bit further to the Seattle Center, as Ellen wanted to see the Space Needle, the Monorail, and walk around outside the Music Experience and the SF Museum. We ended up going to the Carnival rides as well, each of the kids got a ride on *something*. John and Jet ended up on a Pirate Boat swing that went way up in the air. It was intense enough for Jet. The other kids went on much more intense things.

We ended up going into the museums, just to peer at the gift shops and hallways. There was a small theater in the basement of the museums that showed old concert tapes from the 50's and 60's, and there was a kids' play room next door for those that didn't want to see the drugged out, half-naked, old gods of rock or get their ear drums rattled a bit too much. Most of us ended up in the kids room, playing with the muffled drum kit or the play guitars.

I'll admit that I was disappointed that the SF museum was selling Gaimen's Anansi Boys in their supposed SF collection of books. I guess I'm a purist. And even the SF Cons let Fantasy authors in, I guess. *grin*.

It rained of and off while we were there. One of the reasons we went into the museums was one quick downpour we couldn't avoid, otherwise.

We finally headed home at about 6. Lunch had been so big, so late, that we just cobbled up leftovers for dinner. I had a grilled cheese sandwich with salmon in it. Yum. Lots of sugar snap peas and carrot bits were good and crunchy. Sadly, my jaw and teeth started to hurt again in the midst of it. They'd done so well at lunch time that I had hoped things would be better.

The kids have been running around the yard and then went off for a walk with John. I'm amazed that they have so much energy after walking all over Seattle.

And, yes, I knew that there were Gay Pride parades all over Seattle today and that I might have partaken, but I'm not quite sure Jet's ready for that, yet. Plus the parents of the other kids were fairly sure their kids weren't quite ready for that, either. :-) But, wow, all the pictures sure brought back memories. *grin*

Steps Taken: 13,283
Tags: grace, roadtrip

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