Saturday, August 23, 2014

Magic Kingdom

From top of stairs leading down to the arroyo.
The Boy is going to college in California, and we are out here to drop him off, staying with my brother and his wife (The Artistes) in their wonderful Craftsman home in a historic district of Los Angeles.  Yesterday we drove to  Santa Monica to dip our feet in the Pacific.  We walked down to Muscle Beach, where I managed to blister my feet on the sand, which made the cold Pacific water feel all the more delightful.

This is a beautiful place. The sand is white and fine, the ocean turquoise, the sun bright, the humidity low.  Palm trees sprout from the sand, and gnarled trees shade the walking path along the ocean.  Be on the look out for celebrities shopping, says my brother.

My eye is so caught by the show and beauty, that as with a magician distracting the audience, I miss at first what is in plain sight.  The homeless woman stretched out on the grass in a sleeping bag.  The man sleeping behind Santa Monica's camera obscura, a blanket over his face to keep the sun from his eyes.  The young man who mentioned where he lives when we checked out.  On the far side of Los Angeles from this upscale shopping center.

From the bottom of the stairs leading down
to the arroyo. Math Man on the right, Mme. 
Artiste on the left.
We made that very drive in fact.  At almost 6 pm it took us over an hour and a half to go 24 miles on the highway.  An average of 16 mph, if you do the math.  I can bike that fast on the flats.  Our sedate speed let me notice the tent jammed between the chain link fence and the sharply inclined verge, the boxes tucked up against the buttresses of the underpasses, the encampment in a vacant lot, unseen from the street, a blur when the highway is moving fast.

This morning, after an amazing brunch in a nearby town, we walked the neighborhood, peering into front gardens, admiring the architecture.  Madame Artiste was the driving force behind the neighborhood's official historic status, and did the architectural survey, so she is full of details.  We walked down the eight flights of stairs to the arroyo, and checked out a terraced back yard, then I turned around to see that the very ordinary concrete steps we had come down, were not so ordinary after all.

I wonder what extraordinary beauty, which person dearly beloved by God I missed asleep on the grass in Santa Monica.  Can I learn to turn around?


  1. Lovely. I just shared with my husband, and he agrees.

    1. Thank you, both! I hope the transition went well!!

  2. Life is so full of paradox - those beautiful steps and the luxurious lifestyle of Los Angeles in contrast to the homeless who are barely noticed by those rushing by. What is God calling me to do? Thank you for this reminder.

  3. I really liked your post about Magic Kingdom

  4. Yes. It's a difficult balance to enjoy the lovely places and maintain awareness of those who can't enjoy them nearly as fully.