The mayor's name came before mine but mine was there. Page one of the program marking the Sing for Hope event which raises money for the AIDS hospice where I volunteer declared his status at the event -- honorary chair -- as well as mine -- member of the steering committee.
The first thought that came to me as I read the words was, "Who would have 'thunk' it? A girl from Greenfield, Tennessee sharing a page with the mayor of Houston!"
Then I smiled. Because what got him and most of the others page one recognition had a lot to do with power, position and money. I came to page one by way of cleaning toilets.
More than ten years ago, I began as a volunteer and in the first few years I was primarily a cook and cleaner at the house where essentially people living with AIDS go to die as a result of the damn disease. Some of my most calming meditative moments have been on my knees in front of the hospice toilets. It's quiet there. The fan drowns out the constant TV blare. You kind of face your own mortality in that you are gloved for a reason. And the experience is rather humbling. Pretty makes for a great atmosphere for prayer.
On Saturday night I rounded up a crew to work backstage for this event. We had teachers, folks from the medical profession, ministers, therapists and even a lawyer all ready to do whatever was asked of them ... in the quiet, in the dark, behind the curtain.
One of the ministers even acknowledged that on this, his first time, behind the scenes, he felt slightly strange and out of place. He was used to the light, to seeing the faces of his audience. I smiled once again. Because a decade ago, I made up my mind that I no longer had to say yes to every request for me to speak to the masses, that I didn't "need" the crowds, and that I was at my best making others look good. But I certainly understood his sentiment. We all need to find our roles and revel in them.
So Saturday in the dark, I spent a great deal of time smiling. Yes, I was on the front page but no one with money or power had a clue who I was. And if they'd scanned the well-groomed crowd of generous supporters, they wouldn't have found me.
But I was there ... exactly where I was supposed to be.