sharing space

Bodies of Being -- A Day at Aurora Commons Watching Football

On a Sunny Sunday at the Commons last fall we set up the tv to watch the Seahawks football game. We lost but this matters only in the way all things matter — if one believes that sort of thing, myself? I scrutinize moments analyzing them for their worthiness. Moments calling for only our gratitude for their simplicity and joy I tout as lazy and look for something to dissect, to work out, to clean. But these moments pass like the breeze and surely they won’t come back.

In the moments asking for enjoyment I look for a clock to punch in — there must be a job needing worked, something somewhere needing to be mended. I escape the presence of being into a hell I create for myself. At the Commons there is always work to be done, dishes to be washed and like a heavily used home there is always laundry or sweeping to do, while the work of encircling our lives around one another often goes untouched. Sometimes I sweep up spilled crackers in order to avoid having to sit in the uncertainty, pain, anguish of another human being. Sometimes I turn away from the mess of broken hearts in order to put in a load of laundry. We are needy beings with never enough time to be met, I know this. Someone within arms reach is most assuredly hungry and must be fed. Yes, and yet humanity begs for moments of being, of pleasure, of delight, of being listened to. I often miss the real work at hand of belonging to one another and drown out my own loneliness and incapacity in chores and work and the busyness of attending to needs.

The Commons jolts me out of my chores and holds me fiercely in the face of the other. There is surely someone within arm's reach who needs the feel of pleasure, of the well-timed joke, of the squeeze to the shoulder full of affection. There is always work to be done, yes, but there is yet even more pressing the lonely human needing to be seen. I learn this poignantly on a summer evening as we sit together watching a football game. Jeremiah, a Commons volunteer, sits across the table passing conversation back and forth as easily as waves dance with the shore. People sink into couches and soft chairs as we drink coke and eat pizza and laugh at car commercials, yelling at the screen — pleasure simple as breath, as bread, as a need met. We all fall into delight and friendship and dare I even say love, despite the score on the screen not falling in our favor.

These bodies of being teach me. Andy who sleeps in a park tells me, “People forget that being able to sit on a couch and watch football makes you feel like you are a human, and I want to feel that again”. So we sit on soft places as the coke we drink bubbles up with something akin to hope and we find pleasure is not only for the privileged, the rich, but for the body of us all, even if it is just for a Sunday afternoon.