Grocery store parade musings (Chris guest)

Posted on Jul 20, 2017

Guest blogger Chris Leeming ponders a moment after we were evicted while parading through a local grocery store.

(This post is by Chris Leeming, a man of many gifts. Chris comes to us from Ithaca, NY, where he works in outdoor education. He's the kind of guy who can and will take on any task on zero notice, and who is well worth an afternoon of conversation. Here's Chris.)


Tuesday July 17th and as usual, we are finding our ways to connect with this community in both large and small ways.  A beautiful parade through a local grocery store and the sole Ace hardware store enliven our spirits and elicits a couple of jokes about our less than successful parade through a rival grocery store yesterday (the prices are better here anyways, we say).  In between the grocery store and the hardware store we pause for a 15 minute impromptu show in front of a house for an admiring mother and her two young children.  The jaw-dropping expressions on the kids faces remind me of the smiles of a local youngster we met yesterday at a lemonade stand, we bought all of her lemonade and tipped her well.  I think it will be a long time before she stops telling her friends how the circus showed up at her parents’ garage sale, cleaned her out of all of her lemonade, bought a wig, and the tortilla press (thanks Caraway and Poki).

Sitting in camp as I write this numerous Chautauqua activities are happening all around me.  Ty and River are taking advantage of this area's afternoon winds to fly a kite.  Stephen O’Bent is off to the corner juggling, but most likely also composing music in his head.  Pegasys the kitchen trailer is humming (pheww, that means the power is still on) along and bursting with donated produce from a local farm, people are sitting down after a day of two teaser shows, two parades, and an hour of workshops, all while another contingent of the group is off working at a farm in exchange for donations.

Suffice it to say, we are all tired, contented, and happy, the feelings you get of a job well done are visible all around us.

But I must admit, the failed grocery store parade still nags at me.  

As with everyone else, I can laugh it off, and understand the manger who called security on us, and pretty forcibly directed us immediately to the exit (we actually knew where it was, we had just come through those doors) was just doing what she thought was right in that moment, but as someone who knows what our mission statement is, and knows the power of what we can accomplish, I’m left with a sense of failure.  I think she more than anyone else in that store, needed what we provide, but we didn’t find the appropriate way to convey this to her, and this bums me out in and amongst all of the other positivity.

Yesterday’s opening for morning meeting and we all spoke Kym’s mantra…….”I am, I feel, I love….I speak,I see, I know”  I guess that sums it up: I feel for this unknown woman who I anticipate needs more joy and frivolity in her life.  As with everyone else, I don’t know what it is like to be in her shoes, maybe the grocery store has a history of bad parades from well intentioned volunteers, but I want her to know that we mean no harm.  I want her to know that even though we may not see eye to eye on some things, we are put on this earth to help others, and those of us that know this lead a richer life due to that knowledge.  

But, of course, because I feel, I’m still thinking about how we can help this woman.  I don’t want to try again with her, the timing isn’t right, but I hope that someone else in the community is able to reach her at some point and tell her how wonderful Chautauqua was and the positive impacts we had on Madras, so that the next time a traveling chamber band/orchestra shows up at her doorstep she is able to welcome them with open arms, and maybe even consider joining them.