Last Friday, I attended an incredible dinner hosted by Danny Comacho, a natural roving listener in the Broadway neighborhood. The gathering underlined for me the power of hosting, and the importance of keeping hold of “mystery” as we practice community.
This would be Danny‘s first Broadway-sponsored meal. A couple weeks back when we were chatting about it, I had asked him who he was inviting and if there was a topic, theme, or common interest to it, he told me, “I don’t know right now. I’m reaching out into the deep web and trying to let it come to me.” By which he explained, he meant the mysterious deeper realm than just regular thought or strategy.
When the day came, almost no one he invited ended up coming, so… he/we improvised.
He invited his neighbors across the street, and I called my friend Diamond (also a natural rover and born performer), she brought her boyfriend Sedrick (who’s from the Congo and a budding singer/songwriter).
Throughout the evening, Danny‘s neighbors came through, all warmly welcomed and meeting each other in the easy, caring and comfortable space Danny held so well.
Danny had prepared some delicious food from his heritage–some of which he thoughtfully packed for a neighbor who came later in the evening.
At one point, we spotted his two newer neighbors, two young men who had recently moved in across the street, and Danny called them over for some food. As we chatted, we learned that one of them, a visiting friend of the homeowner, is an artist and has some pieces in progress just next door. So, we all took a short field trip over to his living room to witness his work in action. Gorgeous!
As others ate, shared then trickled back home, it was down to just us four on the porch–me, Diamond, Sedrick and Danny–and we talked on a deep human level about our goals, dreams, and strikingly similar life philosophies.
There was this incredible electric feeling in the air between us, a delighted sense of “finding each other.”
As he often does,Danny shared something profound: he is always seeking answers to things… and, he realized long ago that anyone he meets could have the answer. So, he cannot discriminate or block himself against anyone because they might be the person with the answer he’s seeking.
As the loveliness of this thought washed over me, a fusion sparked in my mind, making me jump up, run down Danny’s steps and grab the photocopied copy of Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House” that I keep in my car. It only made sense that Diamond, with her theatrical gifts, should read it–and she happily accepted my request.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi, (translation by Coleman Barks)
Up Danny jumped to run, grab, and soulfully perform two poems he had recently written, which connected quite palpably with the theme of our talk. THEN, we were all led to ask Sedrick to perform something he’s written.
To cap off the night, I shared a lullaby my mom taught me, surprising everyone since they don’t know I sing.
We all were surprised by each others’ gifts, and celebrated them out loud. Quite naturally, new collaborations and opportunities emerged: Danny shared his dream to get a regular gathering started monthly for creative people to just come and share their work with each other, and Diamond and Sedrick were stoked to be a part of it. Sedrick asked me if I’d sing with him on one of his songs–which I said ‘yes’ to, since collaborating with other musicians is a secret yearning of mine which, in my day-to-day, I don’t give much intentional effort to realizing.
* * *
I left Danny‘s house with such abundance–new relationships, collaboration opportunities, joy from my friends discovering each other, and that unique, buzzing satisfaction from exchanging creativity, life stories, and insights on life with others.
Days later, I remain blown away, yet again, by the power of simply bringing people together around a meal, and also, by the importance and power of a gifted host to make such meals magical. The final stroke of “wow” came to me the next week when I walked in Broadway church and was confronted with TWO people saying, “April, I didn’t know you could sing!!” Danny, being the natural born connector and blesser that he is, had been telling everyone about my gift.
What a beautiful experience this was of how community can be when we give time and thought to seeking, uncovering and celebrating each others’ gifts.
And, what an example and teacher Danny is for me of how this work is partly strategy–deciding to have a meal to connect neighbors–and partly, perhaps mostly, a way of being… I really think the deep thought and open, spiritual energy he put into the gathering from a week back all the way up to, and throughout, the gathering, was what set the tone for the incredible synergy and “mutual delight” that emerged. I feel so blessed to be here among such powerful, intuitive activators of human goodness and exchange…!!!