Monday, March 12, 2012

Little Moments

Thinking back on what happened yesterday, it is not the seemingly significant events that particularly stuck in my memory. In fact, it was the minor details of yesterday's adventure that made things so unique. I needed to sleep on it to fully capture the essence of the little things that made my emotions flutter.
But only four hours of dreaming about all those moments just isn't enough.
7:15. My eyes struggle to open with the grogginess of last night's slumber. I stuck my headphones in my ears and turned on a quick tune, fully aware that only one bathroom would not be able to pump 45 college students through in only an hour. I didn't dally - quickly got in line and was getting ready when I caught wind of a group leaving for church. Church on a Sunday morning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? Is that even a question? I sped up the getting ready process and hopped in the car. We only got lost once...okay, twice...but the church was absolutely breathtaking, the priest was a lovely man, and the company was wonderful.
When we returned, I stuffed down a pop-tart to hold me over, grabbed a dirty sweatshirt, put on a bright orange vest and gloves, and headed out to the work site. We were to clean up a couple illegal dumping areas along a few back streets. I found things from Jolly Rancher wrappers to tires and sinks. At one point, I found a 13-pound bowling ball that I subsequently named Tyson because it was the street's name and rhymes with Wilson :) I got to know a few people a little better, but was mostly focused on cleaning up the area. As we were leaving, I stood in awe at the progress that had taken place. What looked like a landfill before had the potential to be a beautiful area again.
Our group had been split into two, so the other service project that was happening was in a run-down, abandoned area that was slowly recovering, about a 15 minute walk away from us. Their job was to clean the trash from a large area along the street, mow it down, and clean the debris. This area is actually part of a local high school's service project to plant a garden and help revitalize the neighborhood. We simply kicked it off for them :)
The staff at the place we stayed made us a delicious lunch of barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. We ate together on the sidewalk with the warm sun beating down, watching the cars go by in this diverse part of the city. After lunch, we loaded up the bus and took off, heading south.
To Charleston, West Virginia.
The capital of one of the most diverse cities in America.
We rolled up to the capitol building for a short walk around the grounds. I explored the area, feeling the 68 degree weather overcome me and slowly take over my current mood. I raced Brian to the top if the stairs, posed with Ashley for a quick picture, and jumped for an awesome shot of the whole group (coming to Facebook soon). I treaded back to the bus on my own, trying to fully take in the beauty of this place while thinking of how blessed I am to be in this moment.
The United Methodist Church was our place of stay for the night, and also provided the group with dinner, breakfast, AND lunch the next day. Yeah buddy to delicious free food! After getting our stuff inside, Brian, Ashley, Katie, the other Brian, and I explored the three floors of the church, eventually finding a small chapel with a piano, chairs four the choir, and an organ. No, not a spleen or anything like that, but I had no idea that Connor knew how to play that complicated instrument.
Next came the night activities. We started with a couple energizers at nine, some dancing and singing was just what we needed to bring us together before the heavy activity to come. The bus core lead us up to a small room upstairs while we had our eyes closed, hands on each other's shoulders in a single file line. I was behind a really tall guy, so I had some trouble getting up the stairs blindly :) We began around 10, and went around the room sharing our struggles - all 45 of us. And let me tell you...
It got heavy.
In fact, it took us four hours to get through everyone's stories. But at the end of the night, we left that dimly-lit room a lot stronger and a lot closer than ever imagined. I connected with people in ways that I thought were only possible in movies and dramatic Lifetime originals. I want to know these people on a different level...I already do.
It's purely impossible to think I'll never get to see these people again after Saturday. How could connections this deep turn to something so distant?
Live in the moment, especially when time is against you.

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