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Of Gifts and Blessings

Though this summer has been one in which I have not had many days completely free of obligations, I have so enjoyed the blessings of our area and the opportunity to take a few hours and go do something enriching and nourishing to the spirit. Last week, my mother came to spend a few days and we took a couple of small trips in between my work commitments. One of them was on BART to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. As we set off on our ride, she said to me, “There’s someone dancing in that other car ahead of us.”

“Oh, I said, they will be in our car soon.”  And they were; three young men, who began with a polite introduction asking people to support their work with attention. All of us knew that we would be asked for money at the end so gazes were cast down. The summer is the season in which it is clear who has resources and who does not and is often where we see a rise of tensions between races and socioeconomic classes as those who have little to formally occupy their time start to find their own ways to fill their time. That these three had chosen this focus was very clear and their dedication to it was equally clear as soon as they began to dance.

Each of them had a part and the parts were coordinated and skilled and beautiful. That they had taken care to construct the routines that they were offering was clear and that they took pride in their work was all so clear. I found myself thinking that it was such a good way to pass time in a summer in which some people have the resources to have structured activity and far too many do not. I found myself wishing that we could have a program, auditioned, perhaps, and grant-funded. Then young people who had gifts to share could offer them in the lower-ridership times on the train. All of us were smiling at the end of this particular performance because the craftsmanship and the dedication and the sheer joy of the art was so apparent. Yes, it was a form of busking and yet we don’t seem to mind the young white musicians, playing their clarinet or perhaps their flute in the Pleasant Hill BART station nearly as much.

I am glad that my week did include the blessing of this artistic gift and I wish that more who were equally entrepreneurial and equally dedicated could be supported in offering their gifts.

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