Kumbaya on the Shore
a place of peaceful pastime
Dreamweaver's Lessons Lyrics & Litanies Archive ~ July 1, 2019
15224 - 15226
Lakeshore Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
216.376.9692
Ladybug@KumbayaShore.com
Mittie Imani Dreamweaver
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i
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    Nor Their Seed Begging Bread
         July 1, 2019


    Some of you will immediately recognize the reference.  Others, not so much.  There may be a sense of familiarity, but it’s just not clicking.  I’ll come
    back to it.   

    “…nor their seed begging bread…”

    that’s what I got.  Some of you in this mailing will ask “what’s B-slapped?”   I’ll let you know.

    When exiting the highway during a quick hardware store run, the light caught me at the main street intersection where I came eye to eye with one of
    the “homeless and hungry mother and son” sign-bearers who have claimed the corner as their turf.  I confess that I try not to let them catch me
    looking, but on Saturday, the “son” and I momentarily came eye to eye.

    My brother and I had seen the “mother” of the duo the day before - in route to the same hardware store, because when you’re constructing faux
    walls, installing signs, switching out bathroom fixtures, painting… you’re always running back to the “big box” for some forgotten something.  
    Fortunately, it’s just a quick two exit jaunt away.


    There she was: tall, thin and scraggly, with glances of humility as she “toed the line” between the light and the last waiting car.

    “How much you think they’re bringing in a year?”  We looked straight ahead at the light.  “I don’t know, but they say that the man in his underwear
    playing the guitar in a New subway was bringing down 200,000 Grand before the Times ran the article that exposed him.”  The light changed.  My
    brother took one last quick glimpse.  “Meth.”

    I don’t know.  

    The first time I saw highway exit beggars was when I lived in Dallas over twenty years ago.  Back then, in addition to the words “hungry and
    homeless,” the signs would include the line “need work.”   That option seems to have been eliminated from most of the signs I see today.  

    I used to carry snack packs and fruit for my son and me to pass through the window of “Sojourner Truck” (Surely y’all Dallas folk remember
    Sojourner, my big beautiful black fading into a smoky silver metallic finish, fresh off the Texas Auto Show, customized F150!  Oh yeah!  Those were
    the days)

    We were always amazed by the sometimes look of “what the f…” when we’d offer our little goodies  There were even those who wouldn't accept
    them.  So much for the “hungry” profession of their sign.  I no longer stock the snack packs, but on occasion, when I am approached by peddlers at my
    go-to gas station, I offer to buy them snacks or to meet me at the fast food eatery next door where I will pay for their meal.  Some do.  Some don’t,
    insisting that they need money for bus fare.  One-way passes at $2.50 each are less than the meal, so maybe I’ll start stocking them instead.
    Probably not.

    I doubt that the “mother and son” - in their varying personas as I have noticed them to switch up over the course of any given day – pull down the
    kind of money the subway guitar playing, underwear man was “cha-chinging” all the way to the bank.  But, basic math at a stop light with at least ten
    cars backed-up every three minutes… and let’s say they cash in on a dollar every 4th car, that’s $50 an hour – much more than most average
    workers make in a day.  I ain’t mad at them.  “It’s not easy being a hustler nor a hoe.”  I’ll get back to that quote, too.

    The sun was full and sweltering on Saturday as I stopped alone at the light.  The young man’s face was flushing red with signs of sweating welts of
    acme.  After absorbing my glance, he fully closed his eyes as he paced from the light toward the lined-up cars with his sign held high afront his chest.  
    I whispered a prayer.  “Lord have mercy on him, for whatever the reason that has him out here in this heat begging for bread.  Have mercy on him.”

    That’s when it slapped me.  One of my father’s favorite scriptures punched me in my gut as it checked my own reality: “I have been young and
    now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging bread.”  Psalm 37:25

    My eyes watered.  My lips quivered.  The light changed and the young panhandler became a blur in my side-view mirror as I turned off the exit and
    onto the main street with the question of distinction sauntering in my soul now riled with the sense of shameful guilt.   

    How dare I pass judgment and sympathy on him.  What differentiates me - facelessly begging from behind the comfort of this computer - from this
    barefaced, heat-worn somebody’s son pacing the side of the highway?  Even more agonizing, how is it that I, the daughter of an humbly submitted
    righteous man and woman, end up dishonoring the inheritance of their promise by begging bread?

    By the time I returned to Kumbaya I was an emotional wreck ready to dive head-first into the deep partying thralls of self-pity and entertained the
    notion of “throwing in my towel.”

    It didn’t help that the overnight high winds had blown down the Ladybug by the Beach shingle we’d just hung the week before, nor that my help for
    the day had not arrived.  Neither helpful was the sight of the northbound stream of strollers, both pedestrians and those holding little ones being
    pushed as they passed me by on the way to the Waterloo Arts Festival at the other end of the eastbound street.  Like the bikers the night before,
    peddling past with beach chairs slung across their shoulders in route to the free Friday night live concert five blocks away at Euclid Beach, they all
    passed me by.  

    I had so thought that Kumbaya would be open and fully staffed, with the colorful tiki bar and patio chairs inviting the glean of the summer festival
    traffic this year.  Rather, while the shutters were raised, the doors were closed with no such enticements to lure pedestrian, biking, bussing or other
    vehicle bearing by-passers pressing their way to the seasonal events nearby.

    I slumped.  Then came a “ring for service” from Ladybug’s bell.  

    “You will be haunted by three spirits.
    Without these visits you can not hope to avoid the path we tread.”

    He and his wife had been faithful patrons of Deuteronomy 8:3 Café and were my very first customers when I opened the doors of Kumbaya’s
    Ladybug by the Beach in December 2017.  

    Having held a small tenth wedding anniversary dinner party at D8:3, and excited that the new space was double the size, they’d already told me of
    their hopes that I would be open in time to hold their twentieth celebration at Kumbaya Cafe this year.  He had come to pin down the fall date.  Time
    zooms.  

    Confident that I would overcome my emotional setback, he wasn’t trying to hear my personal woes as we confirmed the date and talked about the
    unsettling social climate of our nation.   I was reminded of how D8:3 had provided a welcoming and safe space for organized, critical constructive and
    productive discourse around “the sins of politics and politics of sin.”  (Yeah Laura.  Your music still stirs me.)  “When I drive by now, the building just
    looks… barren without a soul.”  At least he can drive by, something I still can’t bring myself to do.

    With the door left opened and my back to it, I neither saw nor heard her quiet arrival.  Rather, it was the look of surprise on his face that made me
    turn to smile at the tall, strikingly stylish figure entering the room.  With her long flowing skirt and wide-brim, broad banded woven straw hat, she
    looked as if she’d stepped fresh from a promenade along the shops of Nantucket.  

    I wonder if the strong winds off the waterfront occasionally blow their shingles down.

    “I came to check on your progress.”  Never one to waste words, she went straight to the matter of fact.  I introduced the two to one another and sent
    her back toward the kitchen where we are building the wall to fully separate it from the adjacent bathroom.  She let out a shriek when she turned the
    corner.  The cabinets that were ripped out to make way for the wall were leaning against another.  All the cookware, dishes and utensils that they
    once held were stacked up everywhere on the other side of the open frame.  Beneath them, the dishwasher, range and sink squished together waiting
    to be installed.  Indeed, the sight was overwhelmingly shriek worthy!  

    I went back to walk her through the process of what was left to be done including ripping out the bathroom entry and toilet and replacing them with
    ones that are accessible according to ADA code.  “Then it’s all cosmetic.”  Without one word of commentary, she turned to leave as quietly as she came.

    As I walked with her to her car, she looked back at the window and told me that it was too dark.  While I was shooting for a beach town look, going
    with hanging upper shingles instead of neon window lights and signs, I still needed something to draw the eye to the store which sits back beyond the
    parking lot of the small plaza.  I welcome her critique. Straightforward, and at times brash, it is never hurtful criticism.  What’s more, she always
    follows it up with caring action.  She was the one who showed up with gloves and super-duper window cleaner in hand when the residual of the fake
    “frost” for our “Winter Wonderland” sale left the view looking… well, just plain ole dingy.  “Let me know when you’re ready to paint the bathroom.  
    I’m a very good painter.”  She smiled, please with her pronouncement.  Then she was gone.

    Finding my spirit lift with the confidence and caring of friends – but still no immediate help in sight - I grabbed the drill, got down on the floor and
    finished assembling the frame for the last section of the wall. Can you say degree in theater which included set design?  I’ve been hammering, sawing
    and painting ever since!

    As if penned straight out of a Dickens story line, the third visitor came.  

    “Girl, I thought you’d be set up outside to pick up some of this Waterloo traffic.”  She’d been with me on the patio last summer as we tested the
    waters with our tiki snack bar and cooler of soft beverages.  I smiled to see that she was sporting a summer tote purchased at Ladybug.  Once again,
    just as I prepared to sing my blues, lamenting about not being able to hire help to have the inside and the outside open, a light green summer knit top
    and coordinating straw hat caught her eye.  She distracted my dirge with her excitement.  “Ooh, you know I like this!”   While the accompanying scarf
    was blue and green, she’d probably switch it out for something with a little splash of pink.  “Yeah, I might have to get this.”  She looked around at
    other items new to the store since her last visit, returned to the sweater, then to firmly addressed me.

    She admonished me to not become discouraged.  She reminded me of how nicely everything was coming together.  “We just have to get out the word
    in the neighborhood and get some people in here.”  She assured me that everything was going to be just fine.  “You’ve come too far to give up now.”  

    She knew.  She knew how far I’d come, because like the first visitor, she had been a faithful friend of D8:3, patronizing the bookstore and cafe.   She is
    also a faithful parishioner and leader in our denominations local black “mother church” where I served upon my return from Dallas twenty years ago,
    and where I still periodically preach.  

    Like the ghosts of the Christmas Carol, each of these friends represents a different aspect of my life and my work.  As stated, the last a faithful
    member of our greater church and a resident in Kumbaya on the Shore’s north Collinwood community.

    The first, a neighbor in the community in which I live and serve through my congregation, as we work organizing an orchard from the vacancy of what
    was inundated blight. A brand producing fruit orchard, for which we’ve already been granted land and dollars.  Not only to improve the visual
    condition of our day to day surroundings, but to also employ neighbors, improving the overall quality of our lives.  

    The second, a college alumna mate who lives in the affluent Lake Erie-front village adjacent Collinwood.  She serves on our local alumnae club board
    over which I preside, and works faithfully to ensure internships and hosting for current students and recent graduates, including  providing legal
    review and advice for our newly established endowment for the same.

    My brother and sister-in-law had been with me the day before, sawing and drilling, and raising the new bathroom entryway wall.  Help and
    encouragement has come from so many of my friends and in so many ways during this season of drought, because they’ve not only caught and
    embraced the vision for Kumbaya on the Shore, they remember the path that brought me to this place – a journey that keeps me connected and
    “giving back” to every entity that has helped shape my life; to my family, my friends, my community, my college and my church.  

    “…not by bread alone…”

    When the last of the physician-owners passed at the age of 95, and with the young new doctors and myself unable to obtain a loan to purchase the
    building from the widows, the “community development” vultures swooped down and swooped up the building for back taxes.  The Lord closed the
    door.

    In 2016, I bagged and boxed up what was left undamaged, stolen or discarded from my business as the new owners allowed the contractors to have
    their way.  I stored it away in my basement, barn and backyard until discovering the blessing of the shuttered building, an “open window” of
    opportunity here on Lakeshore in August 2017, with the first phase of the business, Ladybug by the Beach boutique, gifts and gallery opening in
    December 2017 as the easiest option in beginning to earn some cash flow.

    I know that finding this venue was a blessing, because I was not looking for a space at the time and had never considered re-establishing in the
    Collinwood community.  But since being here, the location has inspired me to expand my vision, and it is prime for actualizing the Kumbaya business
    plan, which projects - with modest consumption numbers – gross sales of over $600,000 while employing seven full-time workers, and additional
    part-time staff to meet weekend entertainment needs.  But that’s all moot without the café.  

    So, this is the reason why this “seed of a righteous” man and woman is found begging, although it being for a different kind of bread.  

    Ironically, it was my signature mini loaves of D8:3 Fellowship Bread that kept many customers returning to the café consuming it like 70’s hippie
    potheads on Dunkin’ Doughnut “Munchkins!” “What do you put in this stuff!”  Ah, that’s my little secret ingredient in addition to a lot of love!

    Still, “not by bread alone,” I’ve come so far, and against all odds, and time is of the essence.   

    Finally, for those who subscribe to the notion that “Deuteronomy 8:3 Café failed, so just let it go,” Google the phrase “successful people who failed at
    first.”    The responses are numerous and amazing, including testimonies of Cleveland’s own Steve Harvey and Hallie Berry once being homeless,
    living in their car and a shelter, respectively.  But I want to make note of three people whose journeys especially inspire me at this time in my life.

    While my social security check is bigger than Colonel Sanders’ $105 at the time, it was all that he had to work with when he sat out at the age of 62 to
    push his plan for a chain of restaurants featuring his chicken recipe.  They can reduce the name to a monogram to appeal to the more health
    conscious, norther consumers, but it’s still Kentucky Fried.

    Of all people, financial guru Suze Orman lost everything when she made a bad investment of $50,000 she’d raised from friends to open a restaurant.  
    It was her sense of obligation to those friends that was the driving force behind her multi-million dollar success: “Sometimes you won’t do something
    for yourself, but when you need to do something for somebody else to pay them back, you owe them, you lost what they gave you, that gives you
    courage!”

    And finally, Tyler Perry.  Twenty-one years ago he sank all of his money into a play that he believed in.  It flopped in the beginning and he lost
    everything and ended up living on the streets.  He never gave up, and now he is one of the highest earning producers and directors in the
    entertainment industry.  When asked how he made it through those lean times, he always lifts up his faith in God and himself.  “All you can do is plant
    your seed in the ground, water it everyday and believe.  That is what allowed me to be in the position I am in right now.  I would not stop believing.”

    I hope that you will visit our website to learn more about the progress and plan for Kumbaya on the Shore.  I especially encourage you to visit the
    "Kumbaya Song" page on the site where I promise that you will be enlightened by the historical significance of the word, and inspired by the soul
    stirring version of the song sung by the amazing Soweto Gospel Choir.

    I look forward to seeing you on the shore!

    ~ Mittie Imani
    ladybug@kumbayashore.com
Site Map ~ www.kumbayashore.com
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