Saturday, May 21, 2011

Street Fair

As Carla and I were out goofing around today, we stumbled upon the University District Street Fair--an annual event in Seattle. Several street blocks near the University of Washington are closed off from traffic and lined with hundreds of booths selling jewelry and hand-made soap and tie-dyed apparel and cute hats for children and objects d'art and junk food (lots of junk food). Street musicians compete with acrobats and magicians for tips from passersby.

Normally, I hate crowds, but as we strolled along in the flow of the dense throng--surrounded by college kids and street people and hippies and pagans and "respectable" folks--I felt a deep sense of joy. God loves these people. All of them. They are treasures--the work of His hand.

My favorite spot was a street block set aside for religious and activist groups. There were annoyed-looking Vegans and animal rights activists with photos of factory chicken farms; there were Scientologists giving free e-meter readings and Atheists loudly mocking the non-rapture of May 21st (I good-naturedly chided them that they were going for the low-hanging fruit on that one and they good-naturedly agreed). A tarot card reader was gazing into the face of his customer with an expression of deep caring and concern. I happened to meet eyes with a young man at the Muslim booth and we both spontaneously smiled broadly at each other and nodded--an unspoken pledge of acceptance. One sight caused me to giggle uncontrollably: Sandwiched in-between booths promoting the Humanist Club of Washington and a Buddhist temple (replete with real live monks) was a pair of suit-and-tie Jehovah's Witnesses, looking completely miserable. I could almost read their minds by the expressions on their faces: "What the hell are we doing here?" (Jehovah's Witnesses tend to be terrified of demons and of coming into contact with anything that might be demonically charged which, in their view, is pretty much any other religion).

The street fair was a microcosm of humankind: Beautiful and ridiculous and creative and confused and slightly dangerous and constantly searching and utterly, utterly, utterly beloved.


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