Friday, September 16, 2011

food trucks, purple tongues, blessings and questions

This might be another Kleenex-y post. This is out of character for me. I'll post something hilarious next. I promise.

During the summer we discovered food trucks. These restaurants on wheels announce their daily location and menu on Facebook or Twitter, and their food is often unique. I like supporting local artists, and who is more creative than a chef?

Today there were four food trucks in one place: the parking lot of a cancer treatment center. I knew they were planning to be there, and at lunchtime, I suddenly decided to take my children out.

We tried Hawaiian shave ice for the first time. My children thought it was fabulous, and I remembered that I don't really care for foods that are bright pink and blue. We all loved the pulled pork over french fries with barbecue sauce and melted cheese. The kids laughed at the way their tongues all turned purple from the shave ice. It was a beautiful fall day and we all delighted in the spur-of-the-moment lunch.

As we threw away our paper plates, my oldest daughter announced that she had to use the restroom. Now. We were five minutes away from home and I thought she could probably wait. I wasn't sure I wanted to take my sticky purple-faced children into the lobby of the cancer center. “We don't really need to walk in there,” I thought, “we could just drive home.” But Lydia was insistent, and I realized there was really no reason to rush home. So we walked in, through the spotless lobby, under the sparkling glass artwork hanging from the high ceiling, past a display of lovely hats and wigs, and into the bathroom.

And then it hit me. We didn't have to be there. We had come to a cancer center just to get fun food outside. We were only there for fun. We didn't have to be there.

When I was a kid, I walked through quite a few hospital lobbies and doctor's offices, not for fun, but because my mother had to be there. Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was six months old. For a long time, I had no idea that cancer was a scary thing. It was just part of my mother: she had green eyes, thin brown hair, and cancer. We went to the doctor every month for years. Occasionally she'd get a fabulous report and she'd get three months off from the doctor visits. Most of her doctors were in Seattle, several hours away from home, and my parents would try to plan something fun into the trip too. Because my mom loved plants, this was often a walk through a plant conservatory.

My parents added fun to those trips they had to make. Today my children and I had a fun little lunch--just for fun. As I stood there in the restroom, waiting for Lydia and watching the other girls stick out their purple tongues at each other, I felt overwhelmed with blessings.

And then I thought of my friends who visit places like this because they have to be there. My mind began to ask those “Why?” questions. Why are our paths all so different? Why do some lovely people have to carry such heavy burdens?

I know I won't find answers to those questions. I've asked them often. But I know two things for sure:

None of us have to carry our burdens alone.
May the Lord be praised! Day after day He bears our burdens;
God is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)
And though we each have our individual path to walk (or race to run), we all need the same focus.
...let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith... (Hebrews 12:1-2)

On the way home, I listened to this old hymn, and I thought of the Joy we all share, and the Living Bread who satisfies a deep hunger of my soul...a hunger that pulled pork will never fill.

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

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