I dwell among words, talking fast (it’s the northeastern, Jewish heritage) and trying to listen well. I forget to make time for silence, especially when in the company of others; the rush of words flows by so fast. This afternoon I had a visitor to my office with whom I had more time for silence.

She is Deaf, and since I only know half a dozen signs in ASL and she neither speaks nor reads lips, we conversed by writing. This meant that for long stretches, as she wrote on a notepad, I set aside language and received the things that usually recede to the background. One hand rested on the page, the other wrote, and I imagined drawing them and trying to convey all that they had done and written over the decades. Her hands looked browned by sunlight, like her face, suggesting days outdoors and places traveled. Her jeans were worn to softness and I wondered if they were as comfortable as they looked. Her hair was gray–what color had it been before? And where was that girlhood spent–what memories did she carry? What did it feel like to brush that straight, smooth hair each morning, to look out from those eyes?

She wrote several sentences, pausing to consider and even erase. I had time to consider all of this before she finished and handed me the pad to read and respond. It felt like a gift: to be dipped into a quiet pool and permitted to float there for a while before the flow of words resumed.

Well, I did about 15 days of a Lent practice. About par for me.

My arbitrary and punitive rules for myself are being counterproductive again (are they ever anything else?). I keep not-blogging because I don’t want to write about any of the “big” things that come to mind. But what do I know about writing?: just write. That primes the pump. So never mind the big stuff. Here’s what my day was like yesterday, Easter.

It was one of those days that feels like three because it has so many different parts. I preached on “What Would Jesus Do?” if he traveled through the United States in 2016, observing fascism on the rise, and felt myself renewed and inspired by my own examples, all ordinary people from our own church speaking up against the domination system when it exerts itself: for religious freedom against McCarthy in the 1950s, in support of returning Japanese-Americans after internment in 1945, in solidarity with African-Americans and Muslims now. When I asked my daughter what she thought the sermon was about, she said, “Resistance,” a perfect word that I don’t think I even used once. The music was beautiful–the last note of the choir’s Bach Alleluia is still ringing in my heart, a young woman announced at Caring and Sharing that she is joining the church, the Easter egg hunt was a hoot, there were waffles and fruit on the patio for everyone, and I never get tired of hearing the Easter story as told by Dan Harper.
 
That was the morning. Back home, we ate lunch on the deck in the hot sunshine, and I took a nap, then someone came over who might rent our place while we’re on sabbatical. Luna seemed to approve of him, and we liked him too. We love our house and it’s sweet when someone else thinks it’s beautiful, as he did. It is never as clean and orderly as when a guest comes, and it’s a pleasure just to sit and read in the tidy house (current reading: Home, by Marilynne Robinson).  The afternoon sun shone through the bouquet of oxalis Munchkin picked the other day.
 
We still had lots of playtime–what should we do? The munchkin suggested an Easter egg hunt. We all wanted to hide and to seek, so we did three, each in a separate room. Joy hid 13 items, corresponding to half of the alphabet, all over the living room, for me and the munchkin to find; I made six Easter-egg stickers for them and hid them around our room, along with a jigsaw puzzle of pysanky eggs that they had forgotten we own (we didn’t do the puzzle; it’s 1000 pieces); Munchkin shared some of her bounteous candy takings by hiding eggs all over the kitchen, and then felt her hunt had not been very creative. Joy and I had to get creative because we didn’t have a basket full of chocolate each. We might have an annual tradition in the making.

After dinner we played The Game of Life, which is beginning to rival Monopoly in my mind for Most Boring Board Game, but was fun anyway. Joy and I watched an episode of Grace and Frankie and talked about marriage.

And somewhere in there Munchkin and I planted poppies. A good day.

Harrison & 26th, San Francisco. I wonder who was so moved to put the sign of their love into concrete, and how it and they are doing now.

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Today’s word: possibility.

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Some of these photos have been sitting in my camera, waiting to be uploaded. Others, I’ve only just taken today. Daily practices are tough for me, and I still have some gaps, but I’m benefiting from the reflection and from taking a relaxed attitude.

I used to fantasize about the grass and wildflowers retaking the endless acres of asphalt, the concrete breaking up from the force of tree roots. I am a little more accepting of urban ugliness, and a little more tired and resigned now. Just the same, when I see something like this, I feel like I am seeing healing in action.

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Folsom Street, San Francisco, near the place where Amilcar Perez-Lopez died at the hands of plainclothes police.

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A recent autopsy has shown that he was shot four times in the back, contradicting the officers’ claims that they fired as he lunged at them. No indictment has followed yet.

Capp and 20th, San Francisco

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Skipping ahead a few days to yesterday’s word, which was the 14th  of this Lent practice: creativity.

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This evening while she practiced violin, my daughter said maybe she’d like to be a “music writer” when she grows up. I pointed out that she already is; she makes up songs all the time. She agreed, but maintained that she means  professionally. We will have to introduce her to some of the composers we know, some of whom she knows already too. She asked me for that music notebook we have, and as she paused to think, I took this photo.

Ah, daily practices are so hard for me! I took this a few days ago as I walked through the city thinking of some of the words for meditation. This image seemed like a metaphor for how suffering often feels: shut out from human connection, cut off from parts of oneself, trapped, fragmented.

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Today’s word: fear.

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A couple of years ago, I slipped going down these stairs and whacked my back, hard. The spasms and bruises that followed had me in agony for days. I was back to normal within a couple of months, but the memory of that incident whispers in my ear almost every time I go down the stairs.

Is fear always the memory of pain? What do you think?

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