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Gifts from the Shadow

March 24, 2006
A Beautiful Song with more Verses than I know

I dreamed I was in a large stadium where an athletic competition was about to begin. I was with a group of people mostly women who were there to sell concessions and raise funds for our organization.

During the competition I wandered around by myself looking out the windows, exploring the stadium aware of the enormous crowds and their interest in this competitive event. I had no interest in the event. I was just there to raise money to support … our mission. …

After the competition ended we were boxing up all the snacks that had not been sold and cleaning up. We were all very tired and there was much work to do. I was not the leader I had never done one of these fund raising activities before so I was contributing as best I could and I was waiting for direction.

After the first round of work several of the leaders said they were tired and were going home. They left. There was a woman who was second in command and she was hurt and angry to have the remaining work dumped on her. I watched how bitter and resentful she was and how her feelings made the work difficult and onerous. But because this was my first time I didn’t have those feelings so I just continued to work.

At some point I realized I was very hungry and had not eaten. There were many boxes of concessions that were already packed for the next event and I believed that we were not supposed to eat any of the things we were selling but I was tired, there was more work to do, and I needed to eat, so I took a bag of peanut M&Ms. My only other choices were junk food, sugary candy, chocolate, chips, and I hoped that the peanuts of the M&M candies would provide me enough energy to finish this job.

The second in command realized we were not going to be able to finish the work with the few people that we had to help so she began to wail and despair and she sat down. I looked around, prioritized the needs, and did what I could and decided that I would leave. But by now it had begun to sleet and the roads were impassable.

As I finished picking up trash and surveying all the things that were left to do, I heard a beautiful sound of singing luring me into the kitchen.

I walked in and saw a circle of men and women of all nationalities, all races, all colors, all very different, singing … America the Beautiful … and mixed in were the strains of Pachabel’s Canon in D. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard and more beautiful because all these people were refugees and immigrants and newcomers and outsiders who were working in the background, lovingly doing the fundamental work that propelled the mission. Not the concession sales. Not the athletic event. Their work was to prepare food in the kitchen to feed others but they also were living in beauty and making it part of their daily life.

I sank down with my back against the wall and started to cry tears of joy at having found my place to belong. Each person in the circle looked right at me as they sang. The singing went on for a very long time and I looked deep into the eyes of each person and how their individual voice stood out and how it blended with the whole song. I remember thinking these are immigrants, people new to this country and they know all the words to all the verses of this song! They know it better than I and I have lived here all my life. They sang verses that I had never heard before and it was beautiful.

After they finished their song their leader a black man spoke to me in a language that I did not recognize but it didn’t matter the look of love and acceptance in his eyes, the ecstasy of his being spoke to me and I felt I had received a glimpse into a hidden part of myself that is beautiful.

I gathered my things and left knowing that it was sleeting and the roads were probably impassable and very slippery. I had places to go and nothing could stop me. I had waited inside long enough.

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