© 2017 paulwhankins

Move from “Here”: Off the Curb and Into the Cross Walk







“If you have faith as small as a Mustard Seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”       Matthew 17:20


Nestled in the knobs of Floyd County is a special resale shop called The Mustard Seed. I first became of aware of this shop when it had its soft open. And over the past year, I have seen that shop exand. Taking down a wall to the right to stretch out for its offerings both to the consumer and to the clientele served by this store.

The proceeds of The Mustard Seed go to those who are working earnestly to get out of the many abuses that can happen to a person because of a person. In this little store, next to a barber shop that caters to men and a popular Mexican restaurant, is a ministry. The store is as clean and fresh as one might expect of the classiest boutique. You cannot read the harm and the hurt from walking in the door. Items are diplayed at varying heights in displays that look as though they were put together by the most savvy of marketers. The propietors work tirelessly and for little monetary gain at all as they believe that everything they do in the in the interest of resale in this store is an opportunity to help another reframe his or her story.

But, this is more than review. The subtle differences between review and reflection is what one does when they are finished: test or go on teaching. Have you heard it any other way? In the classroom, after a review, a test is given. Finished. Complete. But, within a reflection, there is a moment of rumination and what remains now is growth. Continuance. Expansion. A wall built around a subject either gets papered and adorned with plaques or is removed to see the bend in the road of a journey still to be taken.

The Mustard Seed is a store that helps me to see past a wall. Because MeToo. . .is. . .IAsWell. Because WeAreHere. . .is. . .Home. Your diverse book is our defining story. Because SpeakLoudly. . .is. . .LiveLovingly. The Mustard Seed is my “four fingers become eight with clarity” portal. Here, I can dump old hurt from on old wine skin and see something new that I put into the vessel of a space that being continually reborn in thought and work and idea and sharing.

And, your stories are my stories. They are our stories. Stories either draw interest wherein we stand upon the curb waiting for a light to change or we step into the interection finally realizing that the light has always been inside of us. All along. While we live along. Love along. Walk along. Thinking we do any or all of these alone.

Mattie J. T. Stepanek called his work “heartsongs.” You see, a hashtag draws interest. In a moment. It’s humans doing. A connection. It blows up. It trends. But they have a difficulty in sustaining themselves. A heartsong creates intersection. Your hurt recognizes hurt. It’s own and if it looks and listens very carefully, it can recognize and reflect upon the hurt of others.

My heart sings to your heart. Your heart sings to my heart.

Hearts signing heart songs.

This is humanity. Being. Humans being.

How do we forget the music of our own heart song? Where do we lose the song of others? When do we forget that we are the ME in melody? When do we forget that the process of tuning always begins in the sounding of a note that is not quite right calibrated until it was the one we were seeking to play and to share?

This weekend, I had a chance to go back to The Mustard Seed. The last time I was there I found a game in very good condition that went straight into Room 407. Maddie was able to find a couple of really nice sweaters (she loves to resale shop as much as her father). I went in to browse thinking I would find some small item that I could round up in price in order to make a small donation toward the cause. It’s the giving and getting from this store that helps me to feel that I am, in fact, pouring hot “coals” upon the heads of those who might have hurt me. And, shopping here and giving back, helps my heart to stay on “target.”

I usually do a quick walk-through surveying any treasure that might call out to me. It’s how I read the page. And how I read as a patron. There are also times I walk through the store–any store really–to see with whom I am shopping. A careful introvert who is challenged in large groups of others when milling about, I like to scan the room and tell myself that community and commerce can look a lot of like when the needs are similar.

And that is when I saw the woman who was quietly picking things up and putting them down. Not seemingly looking for anything in particular. If I could read her it was because we were casting out similar lines. The introduction might sound like, “An unknown wanting has brought me here. What has been cast away as not having worth will be carried away by my hands as something of inestimable value.”

And that was it. No quick banter. No intersection.

But the processing. Could it have been? See too? From where had she come that she was now here?

The hashtag can work itself into the heartsong like a musical phrase that bends the quotidian humming into a kind of churning. Disparate and desparate lives enter into the libretto until they become a part of something that sounds like the resolution of one act before intermission that sounds messy and accidental. . .and wonderful. . .and moving all at once.

But these are the questions of a moving mind as one is simply trying to shop on a Saturday. They could be answered with a Monday hashtag. In the Monday moment and movement kind of manner.

On a shelf, I found three tall figurines and three smaller figurines that were a part of a set. A grandmother sitting in the rocker with a large quilt over her lap. She was looking up at something with a smile on her face. A husband and a wife walking arm and arm with Jesus. A little girl looking as though she were actively playing at the feet of the grandmother. A boy on a bicycle, you could feel the breeze through his hair. Together as a set, they told a story of faith and family. Of love. Of tradition. Of home. Of hope.

I let my fingers gently touch each of the figurines. Flipping them over. Who made these? How did they get here? How much for each?

Each of the figurines were of a black person.

And my fellow shopper in the store? An older black woman.

Now, I wanted those figurines. I thought that they would striking in the room as a tableaux to family and to tradition. But, I think I wanted the woman to want them too. And, perhaps, to want them more than I could want for them. I thought I would tuck these figurines into the titles that featured black history, figures, art, and interests in the room.

So, I left them on the shelf. And I walked away.

A few moments later, I passed the woman. And in her basket were those figurines.

Minus the two children.

God, help me. The introvert is always usurped and eclipsed by the teacher in moments unpredictable and strange when I reflect upon them later. Even if it is only day later.

I spoke to her.

“You know, I think you might regret later on leaving those children behind. They are part of the story, I think. You’ll want them all together later on.”

And she smiled. And then she laughed. And she said, “I was thinking about that too. They probably wouldn’t last long on that shelf.”

No. They wouldn’t. Stories stagnate and go stale when they sit on the shelf waiting for someone to appreciate the shape and the form. The tale and its telling.

And I don’t know what took over me in the moment, but I asked if I could see the good deal she was getting on these figurines. I knew the price, of course, having looked them over just moments before. And we flipped the figurines. And I suggested that the grandmother must have a million stories in her head and a lap large enough to hold two children who would listen to those stories.

She went back and put the last two figurines in her basket.

The set was complete.

But, the story was not finished.

I went to the back of the store to find the owner, Ginny. I’ve known Ginny since the store opened. And Ginny knows my story and why I come into the store and why I will never pay just fifty cents for a book (their standard price).When I told her what I wanted to do, she just nodded appreciatively. This is what I told her:

“Ginny, I want to bless that purchase by making it myself. For her. Can you help me to do that?”

Ginny put down the inventory she was sorting and walked me to the checkout. I remembered the prices of each figuring and we rounded up to be sure that I had the numbers right. But, in the end, I noted that Ginny’s numbers were actually lower in number than what I had estimated.

Thank you, Ginny.

I bought those figurines for that woman. Now, if I were looking for a moment of “attaboy” and “you’re so good.” Friends, phrases like that will probably never be our mission statement. That ship sailed so many years ago. And, if that were our intent, I would posted it in a status update or a tweet.

And you might have liked it. Or retweeted it.

But, in this moment, something was “re-stored.” And re-storied.

I quickly scrambled out the door. I had purchased a used Christmas book and six black figurines. I’ll need to scrub away some pen marks from the book, but it was a Raschka-illustrated Christmas book. And we all know how much I love Raschka’s work.

My reflection for this moment comes in looking forward. Not to looking back into the window to see the woman’s response to the fact that an unshaven white man in a Detroit Tigers hat and gym clothes wanted to bless her with a gift on a Saturday morning.

Late Saturday evening, I got a message from Ginny.

“You can’t imagine your timing. She shared that she had just buried her lifelong friend last Thursday. She was deeply-touched. I’m always so humbled by watching our beautiful community care for hurting people.”

I couldn’t have known. I don’t even know this woman’s name. But, I do know this was more now than paying for someone’s order in the drive-through. This was helping someone put something back in order while walking through the intersection.

Our lives matter. The intersection of our lives matter. The idea that I see your story and I am learning about your story and this story is better in your hands right now than in mine so I will will extend mine into yours is like the blending of one heartsong with another. And this is harmony.

One moment. We two. We were here. Lives. Mattering.

Another shelf. Anther share. One more story.

Told in heartsong.

Be well.












One Comment

  1. newtoner
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 10:59 AM | #

    nice post

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