Turning Time Together
The new day sun radiated from above and the air outside felt hot. We were emerging from a rainy stretch, our internal weather matching in step with the outer fluctuations. It felt warmer out than it was due to the contrasting dampness. Our generous host was guiding us to the Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon. Her big heart filled mine as soon as Jenny had introduced me the day prior. She opened the small apartment she shared with her brother immediately upon our arrival, an act that I now truly recognize as an incredibly generous gift. Opening one’s living space to another was something I often took for granted, meaning, that I did not value it as much as I wanted to. I was not grateful. Now, in the presence of such generosity, and with the humility to recognize and respect it as such, I am compelled to pass it on. And, quite frankly, I do not feel as though I have any say in that action. Generosity inspires gratitude which in turn fuels further acts of generosity.
Our host drove us to her workplace to find parking. She answers the customer service help line for a local utility company. During the nine hour days she receives all kinds of hurt and pain. Words spewed from hate or sadness or whatever shadow state a “mother of three children without power and heat because they missed a payment” could be in. Her service requires her to receive and transmute this projected pain within a state of compassion on the other end of the line. What a challenge to be in compassionate receiving while feeling like you want to help people but are helpless to do anything. She is tapped into direct lines of need. What can a society do to fill those needs with gifts? It was clear upon meeting that her heart echoed these questions in the grace-filled expression of her speech, describing her daily work obligations for survival.
After a quick walk from her workplace parking lot, we arrived at a busy downtown street full of vendors and characters from all walks of life. What diversity! Street vendors serving food made for a delightful experience of smell. The visual display of wares matched the diversity of people bustling all about. I felt like I was in Aladdin, on the streets of Agriba with Jasmine and Abu. Musicians were scattered about, filling the air with uplifting symphonies of sound. Each tent entrance became a portal into an artist’s world of creativity.
The strongest pulls came from novel forms of expression – an artist who shapes scrap metal and pieces from old electronics into figures and faces. Natural soaps fragranced with actual flowers, served in the form of truffles. The hand-made coffee grinder within the spiral of a collection of incredibly attuned pieces of wood. Turning Time read the banner overhead. I had been on the hunt for a coffee grinder for some time now, a desire to transition to a non-electric one, so I walked into the tent.
Behind the tables were two beautiful forest friends, excited to show their art. We exchanged stories of coffee grinding meditation as I admired the craftsmanship and devotion to the wood. Bowls, necklaces, coffee and pepper grinders, and bracelets with colourful stone embedded lined the table. My previous searching for a hand grinder turned up expensive bulky ones in antique stores. The financial outflow to my new friends felt good to me, however the price tag was a little beyond my present standing. I shared my story and proposed an alternative: a reduction of the cost in exchange for some baking and a book. A consensus was reached and I thanked them for their openness. I was to come back the next day for the exchange because I didn’t have the gifts I offered with me. We continued the market circuit and people watching until our bellies directed us on to dinner.
The next morning I purchased the essentials to repair Magic. There was still a day’s drive to Victoria and we had just barely made it to Portland. Outflow priorities shifted and I did not have enough money for the coffee grinder. Jenny and I joined our gracious sister/brother hosts for a wonderful Mother’s Day brunch at a tasty breakfast restaurant. For the first time since our arrival, we were given the opportunity to hear of our brother’s place of work and experiences filling a six night graveyard shift at a manufacturing plant. Machines don’t need down time like people do so to increase production, companies pay people a little extra to work from 8pm to 8am. The extra pay being an obvious incentive for the offsetting of unnatural work. He feels tired all the time because his body is so used to sleeping at night. He goes to bed and wakes up on the same day so the transition between days and the rest of night is skewed. They are changing his shift so the time on to the time off transitions are more frequent despite his request to do the opposite. His service is in the production of prosthetic limbs for amputees. The kindness and respect he demonstrated embodied his dedication to filling an incredible need for people through his work.
Despite the realigned requirements for my current and temporary financial holdings, I returned to the market to pass on the gifts I agreed to the day before. Cookies, nature art prints, and book in hand, I wound through the even busier street market to find Turning Time. A quick lap past the information booth directed me straight to them. My ride was waiting and I needed to be quick. I stood back a moment as she finished with a visitor. I explained the new circumstances and gave her what I brought. She appreciated the gesture and offered a necklace as a gift. Serendipitously, she immediately went to a small wooden slice and told me it was pine! Just the day before I was telling Jenny about pine tree necklaces and the power of pine trees. (I also happen to be doing a book trade for the very book that taught me of pine that afternoon, Anastasia by Vladimir Megre). The necklace was about the size of a large coin and displayed a beautiful arrangement of circular patterns with a tiny heart engraved on one side. Gratitude was expressed and I turned to go on my way, uplifted from the spontaneous giving.
May we all be supported and nourished in the giving of our heart’s gifts.
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