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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Former Middle-School Classmate's Inspiring Pathway To Russian Orphanage Visits Offers Mental Backboard To Bounce Past & Future

Above (right to left): Peculiar People Puppet Productions international star 'Peter" takes time to pose with his multi-talented creator and puppeteer, Christopher Arveson during a recent visit to the Pacific Northwest. Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

On six different occasions, a former graduate of Kirkland's Lake Washington High School here in Washington State has made a pilgrimage to various Russian orphanages in connection with West Virginia Volunteers In Mission. And if rumor correctly has it - he's due for return trip in a matter of days. Click here for details.

Arveson, presently an ordained pastor connected with United Methodist Churches in Brushfork and Bramwell, West Virginia was able to parlay a longtime interest in the Russian language he acquired as a impressionable junior high aged lad and machine sewing skills offered in senior high's Batchelor Living course (offered in lieu of a final year of mandatory physical education) into an equally rewarding avocation and complimentary inspiring volunteer career in the mission field spanning international relations, diplomacy and the arts.

Not bad for a formerly self-styled geek and longtime Eastside resident who daringly sang with a handful of like-minded male classmates a stirring rendition of Buddy Holly's "Rock Around The Clock" while walking several shoulders abreast up and down the darkened hallways of LWHS in the early seventies.

I must admit in those days the idea a minister-in-training walked among my classmates was a mind-boggling. Only a few years before students just a handful of grades older had practically engraved the slogan "You can't trust anyone over thirty" in stone. Most of the pastors I was then familiar looked upon average at least ten to twenty years past that benchmark. Interestingly enough my relatively small high school class produced among others about four ministers and one funeral director!

Until the beginning of this month the last time I'd seen Arveson who I met as an eighth grader at the now defunct Kirkland Junior High was in a reasonably uncrowded elevator twenty-five years ago in Seattle at Washington Athletic Club where I was working in an office. Turns out it was his last day of employment as a banquet waiter and he was actually on his way out the door and would soon be headed in the general direction of the East Coast.

However, in the brief space of time it would take to traverse between less than five floors he managed to throw out the news he had been absolutely thrilled to discover his real peer group upon graduating and shortly after enrolling as a student at Harvard University and later Yale Divinity School. The idea posed by Arveson that such a self-proclaimed real-life discovery could so quickly follow the relative social desert from elementary school through senior high school rapidly became a highly desired and sought after feature in my young adult mind.

I was still searching for that ultimate peer group as recently as 2005. All I can say now is that some people need regular reality check-ins with what's really possible or are stunningly really late bloomers. Arveson's words still gave me something substantive to hold-on to over the years. Would I've been able to cope if I knew it would take me almost the full twenty-five years to finally figure it out? (Hmmmmn.)

Click here for more about Arveson and Peculiar People Puppets Production.


Lorraine Hart said...

He sounds like a wonderful chap Mizu! I like that you linked social consciousness with the calling to minister...thank you. Oooh, and his puppet is delightful.

I think you have been developing in just the right way, at the right speed for you. You've grown into such an incredible artist...with a beautiful social consciousness too. Your work is a ministry...for it touches the spirit.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Lorraine didn't leave anything for me to say, Mizu. Great post and inspiring to hear about the wonderful things that people do. You included!