Thursday, September 14, 2006

the benefit of meeting strangers

Four years ago, while I was sitting and reading in a coffee shop in uptown, a young man approached me. He asked me if I had ever modeled for anyone and wondered if I’d be interested in modeling for him. Since he was more polite than your average person, I gave him the time of day. I asked if he had a website with some examples of his work, which I could review. I took his number and website. After considering it a while, praying over it, I got the distinct sense that this guy was harmless and generally respectable. I looked his website over. He did great portraits. Somehow he captured expression and personality on his subjects’ faces. And he took pictures of guns and ammo. I had an ulterior motive—I wanted to break into a new circle of friends. Somehow I sensed this was a step in that direction. I called him up. We set up a time for the shoot at his apartment. I called a trusted friend and told her where I’d be at, because I knew my roommates would simply freak out.

I got to the apartment. He set up the equipment and started the shoot. About a half hour into it, we’re both getting a bit bored. He suggested pulling out some props. He goes to his living room closet, rummages around, and then emerges with the biggest gun I have ever seen. I freak out in my head as he approaches me with it. But in an instant, I switch into a mental clarity that I get, only when in a crisis that requires action. The closest exits leaped out at me—the door behind him and the patio behind me. I note what I am standing on—bare apartment carpet and the backdrop (no plastic, with which one could roll-up a body into). If I got shot, it would be very messy. I was instantly aware of myself him and God as I took a read of my new friend’s body language and general vibe. Everything seemed calm and nonchalant. My blood pressure dropped back to normal and I modeled the gun for him.

This guy is now the hub of the largest network of friends that I have. He has introduced me to quite a number of intelligent geeks and quality peers. One of the friends he introduced me to won my trust immediately. After only a couple conversations, he asked me candidly, so are you interested a friendship or some other relationship. I told him I was interested in the friendship. Anything else was out of the question. He also introduced me to a lady who is a well-spoken, competent leader and a plethora of other artistic and unusual people as well as those of foreign decent. I’ve also met a conservative, home-schooled, evangelical airplane mechanic, who is quite involved in politics and defending his freedom.


Naomi said...

I'm enjoying your writing. It seems you too are ex-Amish Menno? I've briefly contemplated seminary--I care about people, I have a morbid fascination with theology and philosophy, I am wise to many organizational games--all I lack is The Call, a most critical element. :) So, I'm off to be an English professor. It's been very nice meeting you and I hope to be back again soon.

espíritu paz said...

Nice to meet you too, Naomi. Come back as often as you like. I love meeting an interacting with new folks.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
espíritu paz said...

You know Peter, I really did feel good about where we left off. I wish it could have stayed that way. It may be hard to believe but the fact that we butted heads like we did has served me well—towards the development of my person. Actually, that is how I see everyone that comes into my life. Sometimes people tell me to get rid of this or that person in my life—for minor to major offenses they have committed. I just don’t really almost never feel that way. I feel that everything that happens is an opportunity to sharpen me. I know you were angry with me and I know I was frustrated with you but out of it I learned along with other people who have been indicators in my life—that I have a bigger impact on those around me than I had previously imagined. Your expressiveness actually proved to be quite revelatory to me. You were provoked in particular ways and in response I am compelled out of respect to you and others to adjust my own language. I too am at times quite weary of having to do this cross-cultural translating and personal honing but we must do it. And most often I do it with great joy.

Peter said...

My apologies for the tone in which I said what I said. 'Expressive' would be a too kind

description of it, in my opinion.

I'm the only one to blame for my disappointment; it's unfair to expect perfection from

anyone, especially when one is not perfect oneself.

espíritu paz said...

Please understand. I am not trying to be erratic in my monitoring of what gets printed on this site. I don’t allow things that are offensive to Amish Mennonites and I make a valiant attempt to not allow things that are considered inappropriate to “the mainstream.” You seem most confused by the things that are offensive to Amish Mennonites. Making boarderline to gross sexual comments and references to indecency is very offensive to Amish Mennonites. The level of offense is about as potent as making racial slurs. There are a number of Mennonites who read this and I don’t want to subject them to unnecessary offense. My mom occasionally reads this blog. I love my mom. And my mom loves me and often worries about me. She has ten children she has “let loose” into the “big scary world”—the back yard in which you are quite comfortable in. I am marginally comfortable in it. I know more-or-less how to navigate it. But my mom is not comfortable in your back yard. In fact she is terrified in your back yard. But she has just let 10 of her children loose in your back yard. Now, when she comes on here and reads some of the things people are saying to her child—offensive things. She believes she has reason to worry profusely about the well-being of her child. Then multiply that by 10 and you’ve got yourself a basket case. Recently, my mom has been having “health issues.” She’ll have these “spells”—30 seconds of something between fainting and disorientation. The doctors have no explanation for it. Medically, my mom is in good health. Nobody knows what is wrong. A month ago, my mom went to a Mennonite women’s conference where she was cared for, prayed for, loved and encouraged in a language and manner she understood. Someone counseled with her about her fears and concerns. She didn’t have any of those spells for about a week. Then she began to worry again.
Now because I love my mom, I will stop someone from saying things that will offend her or give her reason to worry. I will also stop someone from saying things that are offensive to “my people” I will also request that someone not speak untruths and curses into me as well. I find certain language offensive. Language is powerful. I believe we speak that which does not yet exist into existence with our words. We reflect our Creator when we name a thing or speak life or death into a thing. We either draw a person into a good place or a bad place when we paint pictures with our words.
This is my blog. I take responsibility for it. I aim to cultivate life here for good things and death for bad things. If you take issue with by judgment of that which is good and that which is bad, please express yourself and perhaps there can be a discussion.