At the end of a good work week
I take myself on a solo date.
I drive my car into downtown Ventura,
park on the fifth floor of the structure,
& I am immersed in the energy of the City.
The street singer fills the building
with his hoarse, sweet, true voice.
He & I share knowing what it’s like
to try to come back from loss.
The kid holding the artistic sign reports
“I’m still staying with my program.”
The Veteran holding a “Vietnam” cap
doesn’t mind if I don’t have change
as long as we can talk a bit.
I am a sucker for any young couple
with rural accents, a dog & a guitar.
The reserved lady who owns the used bookstore
& I share a fondness for esoteric literature.
There is a magical section hidden in the corner.
The Chinese waitress at the Thai restaurant
gently teases me because I’m dining alone.
I make my way by the courthouse –
the sculpted monks watching –
& climb the trail to the view point
of the botanical gardens.
I sit on the bench over my City,
& I think about those I serve:
Friends who create spaces open for all paths.
Friends who help lift all beings they meet.
Friends who take risks to heal others.
Friends who bring light to the world.
Friends who strive to keep their children safe
through the dangerous tangles of modernity.
Friends who strive to care for their beloveds
through the anguished journey of illness & injury.
Friends who strive to stay free
from the grasp of panic & despair
through the blessed gift of service.
Friends with a yearning for beauty
along with the courage to share.
For me each loving friendship
is a sign of the coming of God.
What the Buddhist calls the Pure Land.
What the Christian calls the Kingdom.
The forever emerging City of Peace.