Doing Diversity

I celebrate Do It Yourself Diversity Day each July, but this year’s version had a special spiritual twist.
Sunday, July 11, 2010, 6:15 a.m. The alarm won’t go off for another fifteen minutes, but I’m awake with a list of details in my head. Preparation is key.
6:45 a.m. I’m showered and dressed. Hawaiian shirt. Parachute pants are dust colored (that will be handy), they unzip into shorts for the midday sun, and they have as many pockets as a clown suit. Plenty of time left for tea and newspaper reading. At least something about this day will be normal.
7:35 a.m. The Episcopal church up the hill has what they used to call the golfers’ service. I’m hoping to hear John Brombaugh’s last local pipe organ. I’ve left enough time to walk there.
8:00 a.m. The early light plays tricks with the stained glass facing east and a cat is wandering between the pews. The service is quiet, attendance sparse. No organ music. “We hug at eight o’clock,” a parishioner explains, during the passing of the peace.
8:55 a.m. I needed a partner for the day willing to tolerate the unexpected. Laurene Larson is a guidance counselor at South Eugene High School, so that sounds to her like a day at the office. I promised to meet her at 9:45. I walk fast.
9:44 a.m. In line at the downtown LTD station, waiting for a bus and Laurene, whichever comes second. Jubilant Fairgoers stand in line, comparing sun block ratings with strangers. Laurene arrives second, so the first bus leaves without us.
10:10 a.m. We get seats on the second bus to the Oregon Country Fair, but they are not together. I ask the fellow sitting beside me if he’d be willing to switch with Laurene. She waves; seats exchanged. The Fair makes it easy for strangers to ask and receive. Hugging is allowed, but optional.
10:40 a.m. Off the bus and in line again, this time to enter the Fair. Will they hold us there for twenty minutes? The Fair opens at 11. Nah, they let us in early. Rules are barely an impediment at the Fair. Speaking of rules, “Is it OK if I use your name in the newspaper?” I ask Laurene. She smiles. “Of course, use it five times!” Lucky for me — I’d already used it four times.
12:40 p.m. Dr. Patch Adams is on stage talking about mental health care reform. He and his colleague Dr. Carl Hammerschlag effuse about community’s contribution for achieving mental health. An involuntary “Amen” slips out of my mouth. Twice. Both these M.D.s are wearing clown pants. I wonder how many pockets they have.
2:02 p.m. On the bus back to Eugene.
2:46 p.m. Walking into the air-conditioned Hult Center, exactly on time. The Oregon Bach Festival crowd wears just as much make-up as they do at the Fair, but applied to different body parts. The smell of patchouli is gone. In its place is a mixture of Chanel No. 5 and assorted talcs.
2:57 p.m. In our seats, feeling like Dorothy of Oz, only in reverse. Fair musicians wear every color invented, plus a few that have no names. The Festival orchestra is a strict black-and-white affair. But the jubilation is much the same.
4:15 p.m. Two curtain calls and cryptic program notes leads me to believe “Elijah” is shorter than I recall. We step outside, pass Kesey’s statue downtown, pretend to snap his suspenders for good luck, and hop a bus back to the Fair.
6:57 p.m. We’ve spent half the extra time at the Fair, and half on the busses back and forth. Does LTD employ a “sparkle sweeper” to prepare their vehicles for everyday life on Monday?
7:04 p.m. We enter First Christian Church a few minutes late for the 107th interfaith service commemorating 9/11. The spirit here is deeply akin to what I’ve seen everywhere today. “The remedy of fear is awe and curiosity.”
8:39 p.m. I used almost all the day’s sunlight to view spirituality from diverse angles. I empty my pockets. My son is curious (if not awed): “How was it?” I smile.
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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a weekly column for The Register-Guard and blogs. This weekend, he will be emceeing the Graand Kinetic Challenge at daVinci Days in Corvallis.