I met my friend Marquis less than a year ago, but he has become such a great friend and important person in my life, because he is one of the kindest and most real human beings I've ever met. He treats everyone with the same kindness and care, takes time to ask how people are doing, and cuts up fruit every day to share with his colleagues. He's truly inspiring.
Recently, Marquis decided to leave Los Angeles temporarily to spend time with his grandparents while he studies for the GMAT, but who knows where life will take him! So when he said he wanted to try Handel's, the ice cream place in Redondo Beach that I always rave about, I said, "Let's go!" We drove down to Redondo, and since we were down there, stopped to visit my parents. Little did he know he'd get sucked into a unique Chang experience.
After we had ice cream, I was thirsty for a cup of green tea to wash down all that sugar. As I was boiling water, my dad said, "Why don't I make some tea for you." That meant bringing out his full tea tasting set. And when dad busts out his tea set, it's an experience beyond just sipping tea and quenching your thirst. He likes it, because in the way mini zen gardens are for people, he finds the rituals behind pouring tea very relaxing. Moreover, the social side of sipping tea is always stimulating, because you're sitting around, having good conversation, and enjoying your company. And with dad, he's always full of history and knowledge it truly feels like an enlightening experience each time. At least for me it is. It was such a lovely afternoon, and for once someone else cut up fruit for Marquis, because my mom started cutting up a buffet of fruit as soon as we arrived.
Something that struck me and warmed me, was that Marquis had quickly taken to my family and noted that they remind him of his family. The thought tickled me, because my family is American-Chinese, with origins in Taiwan and China, and his family is American and Bermudian. And it's just amusing to me, because in the end people are people. It doesn't matter where you're from. People from the same place can be so different from each other, while people from different places can be so similar. Of course, Marquis' family is very different than mine, but where there are similarities, it's simply the effects of being human.
Life is beautiful like that. People are beautiful like that. Wherever we go we bring our customs and perspectives, and we gain new ones, marry some together, and even create completely new traditions. And when we open our homes to each other...just think of all the beauty that happens!
Plus, sometimes when you see your family through other people's eyes, you get a chance to see them through fresh eyes. For me, that often is a reminder of how much I appreciate and respect my family, and that I am incredibly blessed.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Last night, as my mom stood in church taking pictures of Chris and I receiving our Confirmation, I laughed, because it took me back to when she'd take pictures of my brother and I at our school functions, Boy and Girl Scouts events, recitals, and various other activities. More importantly, I felt the unconditional love of the sweetest and fiercest woman I know.
It's not easy getting my family to church these days--I usually have to find an excuse of a special occasion, or travel to other parts of the world and make it part of our itinerary. So, last night was one of those special occasions. It was Easter Vigil, and a very important night for Chris and I, as well as hundreds of thousands of people around the world doing the very same thing. I even got my brother into the pews, which meant the world to me.
I see my mom get antsy when we're in church these days, because she rarely goes, so she gets anxious about remembering what to do. I tell her, "Mom, God loves you like you love me. He doesn't care if you mess up. In fact, he probably loves you more when you mess up, because you still show up with love."
Knowing how she feels, I was deeply warmed when it was time for Chris and I and our thirty or so friends to stand up in front of the church, and she had no anxiety about standing up in the pews to snap pictures of us. That was my mother, continuing to capture the big and small moments in our lives with her love and her ginormous iPhone.
This week has been so special, and we continue to receive SO MUCH love. This morning, we woke up and opened the gifts and read all the cards we received from Confirmation. I started to tear up when I realize that many of these cards, prayers, and kind words came from folks we don't even know. Yet, we know they are our family, not just because we belong to the same parish and the same faith, but because humanity means loving each other as brothers and sisters. Chris and I are truly blessed to know this kind of pure and unconditional love. We put all the cards and gifts in a box we've labeled our "God Box" so that we may open it whenever we want to or need to feel the power this incredible love.
May YOU always remember that you, too, are deeply LOVED. You may think it strange that a stranger could honestly love you and wish for your well-being, but I promise you it's true.
BIG LOVE & HUGS