One Verified Angel, Paper Airplanes, Books, Stickers, Little Kids and Chili


I managed to ride Big Red, the Harley Road King, four times this week. But I was so busy with work that I lost my concentration. I was supposed to be looking for angels, or Elijah or one of the Lamed Vav that I mentioned in my last post, but instead I was sunk into “everydayness,” (Alltäglichkeit” in Heidegger’s German –those Germans have a word for everything!). I was preoccupied with my daily routine. And I have to confess that I lost my Zen a few times, got angry at a few drivers who were being reckless around my motorcycle. I had a long day on Thursday, when I taught three classes –five and a half hours of class. I missed lunch. By the time I was finished I was knackered, as they say in Ireland. The last thing I was thinking about was angels. I was starving. Then I remembered that it was the night, once a week, that I visit a free meal program and try to help out. Sometimes it means helping serve people, just saying hello to folks, taking the trash out and mopping up. But lately I’ve found that I have another useful skill; though I am amazingly incompetent in most things involving my hands, I can make a great paper airplane (Thanks to the generous patience and tutelage from my cousin, Terrence Seyden). So to keep the kids occupied until the food was ready, a few weeks ago I started making planes. And when the kids asked me for a plane I told them I would give them one if they read me a book. Three weeks ago when I first launched this idea I made over twenty planes. For the youngest kids I’d make them one if they listened to me reading them a book. I quickly renewed my relationship with Dr. Seuss, and to this day, despite everything, I still do not like Green Eggs and Ham. And having attended many a morning breakfast on St Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia, I can assure you that I have tried green eggs and ham, along with green grits and I did not like them, Sam I am.
I had a few kids this time that read “okay,” struggled with a few words, but they got their planes. But then I had two small children who I had to read to. One, tiny cute Latino girl had me read her the story of the little train that could. Her younger brother (maybe 3 years old), and who only spoke Spanish, kept interfering with us by handing me books and rubber tigers and lions and other animals. Now, I was just sitting at one of the tables where everybody eats and I’m still starving, not having had any lunch. After the prayer, the kids always get their food first, which is as it should be. I’m so hungry I’m eyeing theirs covetously! One of the leaders is handing out stickers from a book. “Anyone not get a sticker?” she asks and I raise my hand but she doesn’t see me. The little boy across from me pouts along with me in sympathy and hands me a rubber bear. Eventually, the grownups get their food. It’s delicious! Hotdogs, chili, cole slaw and fried potatoes. One older boy is eyeing my potatoes and I’m squinting at his bowl of chili. We trade.
Later, after the meal I’m asked to watch the kids playing outside while they wait for the van to bring them back home. Paper planes are flying everywhere, a few girls are doing somersaults, and others kids are playing tag (tig). The little boy, who earlier had been giving me the books and the animals comes up to me. He mumbles some words I can’t understand while he affixes his sticker onto my leather vest. It’s Mickey Mouse. “Gracias,” I reply and smile at him. He smiles back. I mumble the few Spanish words I know: “Como se llama?” – which is: “What is your name?” He smiles at me and says: “Angel”. I watch as he runs off to play.

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