“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a bit on the right-hand corner.’ I don’t try to control a sunset.  I watch with awe as it unfolds.”  –Carl Rogers

This week has been full of sunsets.

On Monday night, I shared a meal with the men of Main Street house. The dish needed 90 minutes in the oven, allowing me space to chat with each of the guys individually. I continue to be amazed by Leo’s encyclopedic knowledge of music. John is the nicest of men. I learned that Jeff’s sarcasm must be met directly in equal measure. In the smaller moments, spending more time with the folks who support the guys in the home was excellent.

On Thursday, we learned that Liz would begin volunteer work at JeannieBird Baking Company.  It also dawned on me that JeannieBird’s logo is a pie bird. Hours after sharing the news, Liz continued to shake with excitement. If you can offer employment to a Target individual on a volunteer or paid basis, know that you will have a hand in materially improving the life experience rarely and beautifully.

Thursday night found Ilise, Russell, two of the Johnson sisters, and me at a comedy show thanks to the generosity of the Carroll County Arts Council. If you ever go on an outing with Russell, do not expect the equal distribution of a shared bag of popcorn, as fistfuls of the snack will be consumed at a steady, almost alarming rate. A small single kernel was placed into my open hands sporadically. I learned that Maddie Johnson must be one heck of a mother as she guided Russell away from candy displays as we departed.

On Friday, Keturah and I had the pleasure of visiting The Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. The Museum may soon offer employment to one of our friends from Montgomery County. We had a few hours to wander the grounds ahead of a meeting to explore developing a curriculum to train Glenstone colleagues to work alongside those with disabilities. This work will be one of my great professional privileges. The natural beauty of the day was found in the time spent with Keturah experiencing art shoulder-to-shoulder.

Last night, a quick change of plans found me at a Red Robin in Owings Mills with the ladies of Wisely and College Square. The company was great. The burgers were tasty. I don’t need to mention the steak fries. The beauty of this experience was our waitress, Lauren. Most waitstaff might dread seeing a table of eleven members of the Target community waltz into their section.  I’m talking about six individuals with disabilities, five staff, ten separate checks, three tax-exempt, and a severe need for extra French fries, to-go boxes, refills, and a mess. Lauren treated us like dignitaries. She met each of our accommodations with grace. We were so impressed that the staff and I put a full-court press on Lauren to recruit her to work with us at Target.

I don’t always remember to let go and look at the sunset, but when I do, the experience gives me pause and fills my heart with gratitude. I may not do much better remembering to watch the sun go down over the mountains outside my home, but I will do better to protect the beauty of the human interaction around me unfold.

Happy Thanksgiving, Target community. I’m forever thankful to have found a home alongside you.