20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


An Open Letter to 20 Lines Readers

“Let us be grateful for those who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (Marcel Proust)

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting such a charming gardener this past Sat. and I want to share the meeting with all of you, first because it was such a special time for me, and second because it affects all of you.

I met Melissa, our Melissa who has begun and who maintains 20 Lines. We went south to visit my brother and his family for a week following Christmas, and it turned out that Melissa lives only about an hour or so from him. So we made plans to meet about halfway in-between for lunch. She did some research and found a restaurant called Southern Roots. My brother, his wife, their grandson who lives with them, along with my husband all drove me there.

We arrived first, and when we did I discovered that the place was closed on Saturdays. Very loud music led me through the back door to an empty restaurant with chairs upside down on tables, and two guys cleaning. Friendly as could be, they apologized that they were closed (yes, even though the back door was open), and directed me to another place down the block and across the street.

I called Melissa and told her the predicament. She arrived a few minutes later. I was sitting on a park bench in front, watching up and down the street for her when my husband came around and said, “She’s here. Come on, hurry. She’s here.”

And there she was. Tall, slender, lovely, she walked toward me on the sidewalk at the side of the building. As if we’d known each other for a hundred years, we hugged like old friends happy to be together again. And then…chatter, chatter, chatter. I don’t think anyone could have stopped us!

I walked her over to my brother’s car and introduced her to him and his family. And then…we were off, walking to this other little restaurant. It was a little treasure of a place, called Fresh Manna, tiny, with one booth and three high top tables for two. Tucked away behind a place that sold garden items, ironwork, and interesting artistic outdoor pieces, Fresh Manna offered a menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Over tomato basil soup, Greek salad, and chicken salad, we talked as if we didn’t have enough time. She showed me pictures of her adorable children, and I was proud to show her pictures of my children and grandchildren.

We talked poetry, 20 Lines, families, life experience, and mostly just enjoyed the fact that there we were, two people who only knew each other from online and now we were really meeting. It was quite an amazing thing. I know, in this techno-age, people meet all the time, but for me it seemed almost unbelievable.

I am grateful to my brother for taking the time to drive me to the place where Melissa and I met, for taking his wife, grandson and my husband to drive around and explore the town and eat lunch while she and I had our own lunch and time to come to know one another.

I know I felt that time was rushing by too quickly. We left the restaurant and sat outside on the patio for awhile, taking pictures of ourselves for all posterity. We snapped pictures of Fresh Manna and the various art pieces, the sign over the door, the steps that led up and around to the street again, the place.

Yes, the place where we made our mark. The restaurant was a tiny hole in the wall with good food and friendly people, and it became imbued on Saturday with the freshness of a friendship newly-discovered and forever-bound. We agreed that we would each write in our own way about Saturday on 20 Lines, so you will also be reading hers here soon.

You know Melissa from the way she writes on 20 Lines, whether it’s her meaningful poetry or how she describes the community she has established. I have had the privilege and delight of meeting her, and I’m here to tell you that you would love her too.

We are fortunate to have become a writers’ and photographers’ community led by someone so deeply-committed to fostering a place where we can express ourselves through our art and develop further in our pursuits.

Thank you, Melissa, for making time for me on Saturday, and for all you do to make 20 Lines the place to be online.

Saturday will remain for me a day of a new friendship beginning. You know, kind of like those seeds we plant in the garden in springtime. They blossom, bloom, and bring beauty.

Thank you, Melissa, for being such a charming gardener.


God’s Little Gang

For the past 20 years, my husband has worked in the restaurant business. Recently, he and my daughter, who also works in the industry, have been telling me about a phenomena that makes me feel sad, and quite honestly, angry. Like anywhere in our lives, we are going to run into all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. We are all familiar with people cutting us off in traffic, the occasional obscene finger gestures thrown our way from a passing window, the rude comments from people in stores, theImage callous service we get from restaurant servers…the list goes on and on…

This new thing, though, is particularly disheartening. My husband and daughter hate it when the “Christians” come in to their restaurant. Armed with Bibles under their arms, they gather at the restaurant for Bible Study. They throw about God Bless You’s at the same time they complain about prices. They boldly ask for things for free, or act surprised that there would be a charge for the extras they have asked for. They loudly preach to their audience about Jesus’s love, and yet they steal…that’s right…steal  sweeteners and napkins, and whatever else that isn’t nailed down. Their orders are never right, not that it could possibly be their fault, and the employees are treated like second-class citizens. After taking up tables for extremely large periods of time, they leave nothing in way of compensation for their servers, but leave their tables totally thrashed, as if it is their right to have others clean up after them.  The employees hate to see them coming.

Sometimes I want so badly to go in on the nights these “holy” people come in and ask them what exactly their goal is. If the goal is to have some sort of exclusive country-club membership to a God club, then kudos…well done. No one wants to be in your God Gang. Maybe you could spread your elitist, self-serving agenda at some other restaurant. Evidently, the spirit of the Pharisees and the Sadducee‘s is alive and well in America today.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How do you propose to show Jesus to those around you when your actions are so demeaning, rude, arrogant, and self-serving? What is your purpose in the Kingdom of God? Are you a representative of Jesus, or are you using Christianity to further your own goals?

We should always assume people will be watching us when we least expect it. And it is of no consequence to God whether or not we think someone is worthy to be in our “club”. The girl taking your order at a drive-thru or the homeless man begging on the corner…both were created in God’s image, no more and no less than you or me. … This isn’t about club membership. It is about life and death, heaven and hell. It is war-time, with satan leading a very skilled attack on every aspect of our lives every single day. You’re a tool — we all are. But you should know who’s wielding you.

I completely understand that as Christians, we all have to start somewhere. And I emphatically agree with Bible studies. But my question is aimed at the leaders of these Bible studies. It would seem to me that if you are ready to teach other Christians, you’d be more sensitive to how your behaviors will reflect on your God. We are known by our fruits, are we not? We aren’t going to be perfect, but we should remember who we are representing….

What good is all of these theological discussions on Adam’s belly button if just eating a meal at a restaurant drives people away from God??

If you aren’t helping us, then you’re hurting us. If saving souls isn’t your goal, there are some serious questions you should be asking yourself.

— Bird


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