I escaped from the heat on Thursday to the Acacia Branch of the Phoenix Library. When I walked into the library at 3:30 pm it was 111 degrees outside (and 93 in my house). The chill of the building immediately began to clear the fog in my brain.
I found a lovely sofa type chair with a swivel desk arm. It was right in the middle of the library, just feet from the librarian’s desk and facing the door. My usual tendency is to find a place to hide, but the chair looked very comfortable.
I sat down and began to unpack my supplies. I had brought the empty lavender sachet shells to stuff (see yesterday’s post on lavender). I had just finished sewing them, so the first task was to turn them inside out. As I worked, I took some time to notice my surroundings and be present with myself.
It was a pleasant environment. This was a neighborhood library – very small. There were eight or nine people working (or playing) on computers and a whole bunch of younger kids at the kid’s corner. Many of the kids had “care packages”: clear plastic bags packed with raisins, ramen noodles and other snacky foods. Very nice.
I settled in and completely relaxed. Tears came to my eyes. I was so comfortable. The temperature was perfect. The environment was friendly. I just felt so blessed. I live in a world were places like this abound. Such goodness!
I saw a child present one of the librarians with a hand-made paper hat. I could just feel the connections and community. Later, when I met with the branch manager, Tom Gembeling, he talked about watching the children grow over the four years he had been at the branch. I could tell by his presence that he was in part responsible for the magic happening at the branch. It takes compassionate leadership to allow such a safe haven to develop.
Even when there was a dispute with a patron over a damaged book, the exchange didn’t really seem to disrupt the calm and love I could feel. After the patron had her “meeting” with the branch supervisor, the security guard held space for her to vent as if they were long time friends. He walked with her as she left the building.
It wasn’t soon before the security guard, Amador, approached me. I’m usually a little scared in official environments – probably an after effect of my early trauma. I’m usually doing something different from the norm, and part of me expects to get in trouble. In this situation, I was aware of the part of me that carries that anxiety, but most of me felt secure.
Amador inquired about my project and assured me that I was free to stay and work as long as I wanted. He was very welcoming and friendly. As it turns out he loves the smell of lavender.
Amador gave a new meaning to the concept “security guard”. He was clearly in charge of making everyone feel secure and comfortable. He was guarding everybody’s well being. He helped people log onto the computers, use the copy machine and even put displays back together the young patron’s knocked over. He was also a keystone to the calm and joy of the Acacia Branch.
The hardest part of the visit was not giving everyone a sachet. Sweet little girls would approach me and want to know what I was doing and if they were for sale. Or as one darling put it, “Do you pay them?”
I so wanted to give them all a sachet, but these were intended for another group of people that I also wanted to give them to. I have made hundreds of these sachets over my lifetime and never have a lack of recipients. Perhaps I will have enough lavender to make another batch for the library…
What a lovely story! thsnk you!! 🙂
You became a part of the great atmosphere there also!!
Hello Dorena, Your description of your experience, not the specific events, but the quality of the experience, is so familiar to me. As C.S Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .””
Thank you so much for writing and sharing.
Thank you for appreciating my work.