Noticing…

I’ve been on the road since Easter… which was 9 days ago… I have 4 days to go before pulling into my own driveway and becoming one with my pillow. Sometimes, on these long stretches, I can get lost in the busyness of it all… and forget to notice. I forget to look up from my computer or iphone or whatever task is at hand… and just notice things. When I don’t, I miss out on beauty and humor and opportunities to offer encouragement if someone’s down or even take note of how my own actions are affecting others. I can miss those teachable moments – for myself – and miss the chance to know where I can improve.

So I’ve tried to be better at it this week… tried to take notice and notes. Here’s what I’m seeing around me, experiencing in others and learning about myself:

  • I have sincerely taken for granted the ability to flush paper down the toilet. Welcome to bus life.
  • I didnt realize how I have missed the beach. My soul welled-up just stepping onto the sand.
  • The Carolina’s are deadly in the Spring but the second a good rain washes away the pollen… it’s breathtakingly lush and green…
  • There are a lot of churches with concessions in their lobbies. I don’t just mean coffee and donuts. But popcorn, candy, smoothies, soft drinks. I’ve even seen a churro machine. Are we really a society that can’t go 2 hours without a beverage or snack?
  • I love a contagious laugh. My friend Chonda Pierce, who’s the comedian I’m traveling with has a laugh that fills the bus and our souls. And she laughs a lot. It’s very good therapy.
  • I also love the way many black men laugh. Deep, hearty, falling back with their fist covering their mouth like they just can’t take it anymore kinda laughter. My friend Bone Hampton, also on the bus with us… keeps me totally entertained just with his laugh. It’s a roll back on the couch hold his sides fist to mouth barely breathing kinda laughter. It’s intoxicating.
  • Young people continue to energize me. I keep thinking that as I get older, they may start to wear me out. But just the opposite. I have a youth group helping me tonight. And I’m loving every single minute. They are wide-eyed and invincible. I pray no one tells them otherwise.
  • Southern women amuse me. I love their sultry accents and their wiley-ways. I’m nothing like them… but I can admire a good North Carolina drawl and a sweeping of the hand that gestures for another mint julep.  Okay, I may have romanticized this a bit.
  • And I do love Southern men… that sweet buttery drawl just makes them sound so gentile. I mean, in a manly kind of way. Actually, I’m drawn to any man with just about any accent. It’s enough to make me swoon.
  • When someone starts irritating me… and I mean, really irritating me… like when they just have to one-up every single thing I say… (think Penelope from SNL) … it helps to take a deep breath and ask myself why they need to out-do even the smallest thing I mention (Me: I love being on a boat  Her: I built a boat once. Me: My favorite color is orange. Her: My mom invented the color orange.)….and realize that she has a deep need to be valued and heard and recognized… and for some reason she feels the need to fight for it. Someone has stolen that dignity from her and probably didn’t give her a voice and so I exhale and ask her about the boat she built and listen intently and hope she feels valued even for just a minute. I’m still a bit irritated… but I’m making progress.
  • I really really really like fried pickles.
  • I’ve made a new friend on the road. Sandy, the tour manager. She is incredibly nurturing and has an impeccable attention to detail… like when someone’s glass is empty or someone looks tired or the toilet paper role is empty or whatever the need… she’s quick to meet it. Everyone says she has a servant’s heart. I think she has a mother’s heart… maybe those are one in the same.

That’s it so far… but I have a few days to go. It’s hard to be present when you are exhausted. But I’m up for the challenge. I want to know people to a greater level. Because everyone has a story. A history. A present. A future. Entering into someone’s story is a privilege. If you’re lucky you become a part of it, and they a part of yours. It’s the art of sharing life together. I don’t want to leave a set of solitary footprints in this world. I mean, I don’t necessarily want it to look like I had the Verizon Network behind me or anything… but I do want a good solid family of footprints. Ones that are facing toward each other… and that are near each other… so you know there’s been embraces and hand-holding and long looks in the eyes. So you know that we knew each other.

That’s what I’m hoping for…

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