Ken’s Photo Voice Poster
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A yard sale network—and neighborhood event—you don’t want to miss!
Something about the make-shift assembly of this particular sign caught my eye. The neighborhood had been blanketed with the “branded” poster at the top of the photo, but this entire configuration displayed an ad hoc flow of imagination with a passion for capturing the attention of any and all passing by.
The “branded” poster has been stapled on top of a standard, commercial Yard Sale sign that would be readily recognized by frequent yard sale shoppers, with an added HERE! slapped at the bottom as one more shot at grabbing the attention of passing cars with an urgency to stop and shop, and meet some neighbors who care about more than the day’s income from no-longer-necessary belongings.
HERE! shouts out the pride of a neighborhood with more than enough resources and resourcefulness for supporting the schooling of its youth in grassroot democracy and an almost giddy “capitalism” in which nothing is lost, and everything, every experience, discovers new value.
Sheltering a budding promise, close to the earth
I took several photos at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm project, at several different levels of scale, from entire greenhouses, to rows of pumpkin or squash runners apparently vying for the longest reach, and even clusters of neatly arranged seedlings in a box. And then this first swelling of a future squash or pumpkin beneath a blossom, sheltered under a large leaf, ended the search for the right photo.
It has taken well over a year for the Urban Farm project reach to this milestone, with a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. Yet all the frustration and obstacles and doubts that had challenged the dedication of project organizers, seem to melt away before the quiet, natural maturing of just this one plant.
Isn’t this how a community supports the learning of its youth, with patience, persistence, hours of hard scrabble work to clear and prepare the way, trimming and pruning as necessary, only to allow a quiet, natural process to emerge on its own and create something entirely new.
For whom the bell tolls, and when—sacred rhythms that structure and interrupt the routines of life
Church bells and carillons are the legacy of times past, when the rhythms of worship and prayer structured the lives of the surrounding community as a reminder of what time it is now, and what we are called to do with the time we have. And those same bells would interrupt routines in alarm or jubilation, announcing tragedy or celebration, in times of war and times of peace, just as the sacred intrudes into our daily lives, closing one pathway forever and opening others into…who knows what, until we get there.
The continual setting and breaking of routines, the creating of expectations and their ultimate fulfillment or abandonment (for all expectations come to an end, and new ones rise in their place), represents a fundamental life lesson. In consciously acknowledging and participating in the dance of routine and interruption, the moment of our lives and moments of our living become that much richer.
A sacred place for reclaiming the shared promise of young lives lost
This curbside memorial, in all its exuberant chaos of blossoms, balloons, toys and statuettes, represents for me the awakening of the sacred in space, just as the church bell represents the emergence of the sacred in time.
This is where it happened, where two lives were prematurely cut off. And this is where the community began the healing, to celebrate the lost lives as far as they had journeyed, and to comfort the lives that continue by covering the space with symbols to honor the completion of those two lives, which while premature by our reckoning, were nevertheless, complete and in the light of heaven, whole.
For we are responsible for bringing order into our personal and community environments, and in the face of events for which we never seem prepared, to transform ordinary places into sacred sites that serve as passageways into the deeper significance of life beyond our control.
And so we teach our children to respect the rules and maintain orderliness, while using the lessons of disasters—of both natural and human origin—to manifest compassion where human expectation and intention fall short.
Where natural rhythms prevail and refresh
Urban greenery, in parks, gardens, and sheltered pathways, turns the experience of the city inside out. For some city dwellers, everything “outdoors” is for getting from one place to another place in as little time as possible; we mostly are “passing through” on the way to someplace else.
Yet once in a while, we get reminded that some outdoor places are destinations in themselves, for not getting anywhere else, but for being present, just here, just now, with every need met, every possibility worth imagining. And the best of these places are generally rich in greenery, infused with the natural “breath” of wind and leaf.
This photo whispers, “Welcome, this place is for you. Stop a moment to rest, reflect, and take pleasure in the abundance of life that surrounds and upholds you.”
These places, these moments, provided by a caring community, allow adults and youth to literally catch their breath, collect their thoughts, and regain “lost” time by experiencing an extended instance of the fullness of time.
When we become the peace that passes all understanding
I kept watching for this moment to take a picture of the Peace sign that had been marking the progress of the prayer walk through Rainier Beach, sometimes leading from the front, other times lingering further back. Here, the sign stands in respect, bathed in the light of a setting sun, anchored in the silence of the group assembled at the curbside memorial, and literally announcing the prayers of the man holding it upright.
Here we stand, no more running and hiding; this is our stake in the ground, our covenant with generations passed, present, and yet to come.
How many does it take? How old do you have to be? What does it cost? How long does it take?
Sometimes you just have to choose, trust in the journey, and rejoice in the colleagues who travel with you. We’ll learn together along the way.