Saturday, May 25, 2013

Higher education

Thirty-eight years ago today, I graduated from college.  I lived in Spanish House, one of the several language dorms, pictured here.  All these years later, I still dream about this dorm, and my rooms there over the four years I spent at Oberlin.  It's there that I learned how to think independently, to question, to wonder, to know how much I still had to learn.  Every spring, I was devastated to leave campus. College was a lifeline for me, a startling and endlessly stimulating place.

I am grateful every day for the quality of my education.  I wish I had taken more than one religion course in historic Peters Hall, but the class I took with Harry Thomas Frank, author of Bible, archaelogy, and faith, will always be with me.

We've just returned from N's graduation, where again I am grateful for the quality and breadth of education he received at Yale's Institute of Sacred Music.  These graduates aren't just fine musicians.  They also learned a great deal about scripture and liturgy, and were able to enjoy the occasional theological comments and puns we seem to make in our household.  I'm delighted to have a discussion about psalms with a group of young choral conductors.

All this graduation festivity leads to reviewing past years, so I remembered once again the first weeks after N was born. I took him, all wrapped in blankets, to a college library where I worked as a cataloger.  So you might imagine how surprised I was when, at this institution of higher education (affiliated with the Lutheran Church), a colleague said to me about Noah's name: "What an interesting name.  Did you get it from a book?"

The only words I could think to say were, "Yes.  I did."

Every day, I still am learning.  Every day, I am thankful for it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May Day at Agape Cafe

Some mornings, we don't just serve hot, made-to-order breakfasts, free to the community.

At the cafe, we've had regulars over the years, and two come early to help out.  One of them, F, arrives like clockwork, half an hour before we serve.  He helps to set up the coffee and pastry table, checks periodically through the morning to see whether pots or silverware baskets need refilling, and keeps an eye out for anyone in the dining room needing help.

Today, F didn't show up.  The kitchen staff grew concerned.  He'd just lost his housing, and I feared for his living on the street, especially with his medical complications.

Soon we learned that F had been jailed for something involving a car he'd rented -- no need to elaborate, other than saying it seems likely that what happened was mostly not under his control.  Since the local jail is overcrowded, he's been moved to another city.

Before the kitchen cleanup was finished, several of our volunteers had chipped in to send money for F's commissary account at the jail, and two others are figuring out how to help get him a place to live.
I wish I could see the look on F's face when he learns that his friends have done something to help him out, since he's been lending us a hand for many years.

Cafe volunteers, you rock.