Blank Stars

(With the big absence of posts coming from me, there should probably be a bigger update, but for today, I just have an interesting observation that has been pulling at me)

I want to paint a scene for you.

A man is sitting in Starbucks, sipping on a grandé iced coffee with cream and sugar. He is typing on a MacBook Pro. He has a semi-new iPhone 6 in his pocket. He is sitting at bar style seating looking out a window onto Hollywood/Vine in Los Angeles, CA. Outside, directly across the sidewalk, are two homeless 20 somethings who have just been “evicted” from their 1 square foot (or less) of Hollywood Boulevard.

I wish I could say this was a sad scene from a USA or TNT cop show, but we all know that’s not the case.

I enjoy walking down Hollywood Boulevard (which will be referenced to as “The Boulevard” from now on). I like to keep my head up, eyes forward, looking as un-touristy as possible. However, sometimes my gaze is fixed downward to the hundreds of stars embedded into this most famous sidewalk. My first couple of strolls down The Boulevard were only to look at these etched stars to find my tv/film/music heroes. I found something different the last couple of trips though.

For every two stars with a name on it, there are two that are blank.

I didn’t think anything of this at first. With every new trip down The Boulevard though, it pulls at me just a bit more.

I think The Boulevard, in a way, is symbolic of the city it resides in. So many of the worlds’ tv/film stars reside in a location that is also the home of one of the worlds’ largest populations of persons experiencing homelessness.

They are right next to each other.


Finally! An Update

It looks like I have some catching up to do. I promise I will be better going forward, but in the meantime, here we go!

Imagine 70+ twenty-somethings congregated in one place at the same time. These young adults would be singing songs, showcasing talents, having meaningful discussions, learning life lessons, and of course having a dance party or two. That was Stony Point, NY.

A little over one month ago, I was waking up in my dorm style room at Stony Point Conference Center, just 45 minutes north of NYC, for my first day of orientation. The week that followed was exhausting. Every day was filled to the brim with information, presented by people who could captivate 70 or 70,000. Almost every day had tears at the end of it. Sometimes the tears would be induced by laughter; other times it would be induced by a hard story. However, the week was also rejuvenating. To be surrounded every day by people who want to make the world a better place was exhilarating.

Then, almost as soon as it started, it was over.

I hopped off the plane at LAX (cue Miley) and my year was starting to roll into place. All of the nerves that I had once felt about going into this year…well they were still there. However a sense of ecstatic joy accompanied it this time.

I was finally in the city that I would be calling home for the next year.

The buildings were big, as was the volume of fashion, entertainment, and fame. To give an example, on the way from LAX to our home, I noticed a blimp. I asked our city director Matthew about this, seeing as blimps aren’t really a common sighting in Arkansas. He went on to tell us that just miles from where we were driving, at the famed Nokia Theatre, (host of such events like the American Idol Finale and the ESPY’s) the Emmy’s were happening.

The smile on my face only got bigger.

For as long as I can remember, pop culture has been a very big part of my life. I like to pride myself with keeping up with all of the latest music, film, and sports news possible. To be in a city that is a main vein for all of those entertainment industries made me thrilled. It also made me very nervous.

That was not my focus for the year. My focus was to zone in on the people of Hollywood who have been forgotten, looked over, and been set aside as nothing more than unwanted sidewalk space; my focus was not on the people who had shoved them into those spaces.

Not long after I arrived in Los Angeles, I met with my two work supervisors that I would be working with over the next year. I was joyously overwhelmed with the amount of sincerity (and sarcasm; my main communication style) that filled the room. I was informed that the place I would be working served as a drop in center for homeless people. They could come daily, without filing any kind of paper work, and participate in groups that focused on things like creative writing, intentional discussion, and music.

Touring and learning about my work place put a lot of the nervous feelings I had on the back burner. I was elated with the work that was in front of me.

And now I sit here in that refreshing workplace on my lunch break, finishing up this much needed first update from Hollywood.

I promise that future updates will come more quickly than this one, but hey, things have just been exciting.

Until Next Time,

That Silly Spinning Rainbow Wheel

So the title of this post was my attempt at being creative. Let’s see if it works out.

If anyone has ever spent 15 minutes on any kind of Apple desktop, you’ve experienced the spinning rainbow wheel that means their computer is “thinking”. For other PC users, it’s the rotating hour glass, and for other things it’s, well, other things.

I’m strangely finding it easy to relate to that silly little rainbow wheel…

If you haven’t heard, in exactly two weeks, I will be in Stony Point, NY for orientation/training for a year of service in Los Angeles, CA. I will be working to improve the conditions of the homeless/abused/forgotten population of LA and I could not be more excited for this year of hard, tiresome work. An adventure like this does not come void of a sense of nervousness however.

The decision to uproot for a year to live a simple lifestyle in an intentional faith community didn’t come from sparse whimsical feelings. I’ve been processing (think back to the rainbow wheel) for almost a year now. Funnily enough, the day in January I made the decision to apply was at a beautiful place in the mountains of North Carolina called Montreat. It’s funny because just over a week ago, I finished up one of the most soul lifting, heart warming weeks at the exact same place, only this time, I wasn’t making a decision, but processing to the point of comfortability.

So now I sit here, on my TV an ESPN analyst is talking about how significantly the economy of NE Ohio is going to grow because of “King” James, my headphones are pumping some “Queen” B. into my ears, and I just can’t help but smile. I smile with a small sense of nervousness, but overall with a sense of excitement.

I am excited for so much laughter that my stomach hurts, and prepared for the same amount of crying with the same result. I am excited for long nights with my community of faith, and even longer days working for the betterment of the Los Angeles homeless population. However I think I am the most excited about the opportunity to bring the traits and attitude I have learned from growing up in the church, and from places like Montreat, to all of the people I meet over the course of the next year.

Until Next Time,