Inside / outside birthday party

Posted by seanho on Mon 12 November 2007

So, recently it was my friend Phebe's birthday, and as is apparently her custom, every three years she throws a big shin-dig with a gazillion guests! Last night was part one of her birthday party: dinner and dancing at a pretty swanky lounge in Richmond; we filled up nearly the whole place. Dinner seemed fairly formal to me; a lot of people dressed up, or at least came in their Sunday best. It was great fun chatting with old friends from FL that I hadn't seen in a while, and meeting new friends from Phebe's other circles.

But to be honest, the party also tired me out and gave me a bit of a headache. I didn't circulate around the tables, opting instead to hide out in a corner and talk more in-depth with a smaller number of people. Even so, by about 11:30pm, the noise and the heat and my own tiredness from a long Sunday caught up with me, and I had to call it a night, for fear that I'd fall asleep on the drive home. Maybe it's just me: like many guys, I think, I don't do well with big dinner parties. I did enjoy it, but I think what I enjoyed even more was the short half-hour stroll I took beforehand, along Richmond's waterfront dikes, in the dark and the wind and the rain.

I found part two of Phebe's party much more rewarding! This afternoon, four of us took a car-load of clothes and blankets donated by folks at last night's party, sorted them into two very full shopping carts, one for men's clothes and one for women's clothes, and walked through parts of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside handing them out to anyone in need. To be outside breathing the fresh chill air, looking people square in the eye, touching them and ministering to their needs in some small way, meeting strong and intelligent and dignified and down-to-earth men and women who have such a keen sense of community -- now that's fun! :) I'd done street evangelism and other urban volunteer work before, but this was my first time in Vancouver's DTES. I learned so much about this unique community; I wished I had had more time just to listen to the residents! I think so many of our affluent suburban enclaves are so lonely, so suspicious of outsiders and each other -- there's actually a lot in the DTES that we should be envious of. Thanks, Phebe!

Is this not the fast which I choose:
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

tags: birthday, friends,