A Good Friday Night Gig

By Sunday, September 29, 2013 5 0

What does fun on a Friday night look like for you? Fun can have a lot of different faces. Here is what it looked like for me and my husband Thor most recently.

Guest with weathered face and some missing teeth: “Say, what are you folks serving us tonight?”
Me: “Spaghetti with meatballs, salad and bread.”
Guest: “Sounds good!”
Me: “It looks good, too!” And minutes later I set the plate before him. We were in the fellowship hall of a church here in Portland, Oregon. The gentleman ate, clearly as pleased as any person in a restaurant.

Thor and I spent our Friday evening helping to serve a community dinner for street people at a local church. It made me very happy.

I know. You’re saying, “But lots of things make you happy.”

True enough. For example, last week I wrote about how my connections to God and to nature have made me happy both now, and when I was younger and dollar-poor.

But I notice that some things create more lasting joy than other things. Being of service to others creates more lasting joy, in my experience, than watching a movie, going out to dinner, or the other typical things that have filled the Friday nights of my life.

It’s easy to assume that poor people are all grim-faced, and that we’ll feel depressed to be around them. Not true in my experience.

Older male guest: “Hey, you’re pretty!”
Me: “You’re very kind to say that.”
Guest, chucking: “No I’m not. I only say that to pretty girls. If a girl’s ugly, I just keep my mouth shut.”
Me, grinning: “Then you’re smart as well as kind.”  (I refrained from whining to him, “Why do some people have to ask me if I’m a grandma?”  Seriously, I feel I’m making a tad of progress in dealing well with aging.)

— All of which makes two points. One: people who are dollar-poor still joke around plenty. Playful banter makes them richer in what matters, the same as it does everyone else. Two: it makes me richer in what matters to be of service to people in need. In fact, I need them, in order to become less self-absorbed and more whole.

People with money and people without money do not have to stay separate from each other. That separateness is just a myth that our culture perpetrates.

We all have 168 hours in a week. After earning a living, sleeping and eating, we still have dozens of hours to do with as we choose. The question is, what do we choose? It often depends on what we’re letting into our lives as our influences.  I made this recent choice on how to spend my Friday night due to reading a book called “The Irresistible Revolution”. While it’s written by a Christian named Shaine Claiborne, I think it would be an excellent influence on anyone, regardless of faith. I’ve added a brief review of it to Books That Matter (formerly called Books I Love. The new name corresponds with Diamond-Cut Life’s new tag-line: Rich In What Matters).

Guest: “Are you going to come back?”
Me: “Yes!”
Guest: “See you next time!”

How do you tend to spend your Friday nights, or your spare time in general? What uses of your spare time bring you the most lasting joy, and make you rich in what matters?

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  • Mike
    October 4, 2013

    Alison, that is awesome that you and Thor did that for those folks. I’ve learned a lot about street people in how most are so very kind and grateful to generosity blessed upon them. The dialogue with you and the older gentleman was funny! :)

  • Peter
    September 30, 2013

    Awesome! Sara and I will drop by later, just can’t quite say how much later it will be yet. We love you guys! Thanks for sharing your experiences and inspirations here.

    • Alison
      October 1, 2013

      We love you too, Peter. Until you and Sara and the kids can “drop by” from California, feel free to play in the sandbox here at Diamond-Cut Life. Experiences and inspirations are definitely the shiny coins we find while playing in this sand :).

  • Sara F
    September 29, 2013

    I’m so glad you liked Shane Claiborne’s book! It completely changed how I saw and dealt with the homeless population and my view on being a “consumer”. Also, I love that you and Thor served together-it’s such a blessing to serve with the people we love most!

    We miss you both very much!

    • Alison
      September 30, 2013

      Sara, I’m grateful you recommended “The Irresistible Revolution”. It’s a gamechanger for me, as it was for you. And I agree that being of service with our husbands is especially fulfilling.

      Finally, Thor and I miss you and Peter and the kids, too. We’ve never had such great neighbors in all our born days. Every day or so Thor will say, in his straight-faced way, “Sara told me she’ll drop over later,” or, “We better buy extra crackers for Alayna and Jeremiah”. I always wish he was telling the truth. As you know, the doors are open for when you come up and visit.