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a sign, a story and a stay-at-home time

I guess you could call it a sign of the times.

It all started with sidewalk chalk, well actually not. But that was the idea we had. Hopscotch and curlicues drawn along the sidewalk, encouraging passersby to kick up their heels and play.

But this wasn’t what was in the package when our order arrived. Our new chalk was not of the sidewalk variety, it was of the chalkboard variety. “Dustless chalk!” it proclaimed, being of the modern day kind. One box: rainbow, one box: white; perfect for restaurants announcing daily specials to hungry would-be customers strolling on by.

Well, why not? I thought as I ordered such a sign. Not too big — didn’t want to trip people up — but big enough for people to read as they happen by. A few words. Just for fun. As we all take to the streets for our daily amble, pedal, jog or dog-walking excursion.

As all of us stuck in stay-at-home were having trouble keeping track of which day it was, the first sign idea was born. I wrote, “It’s Monday, you’re welcome” and set it on the small table in the front mulch bed. Please excuse the poor chalksmanship and drab color. We had low expectations.

But, wouldn’t you know? When I shared it on Facebook, folks liked it. (Apparently, others were having trouble deciding what day it was, too!) So, inspired and emboldened by Monday, I erased Monday’s for Tuesday’s. And Tuesday’s for Wednesday’s.

And that’s when it became a group effort. Our daughter (who is corona-stranded here with us) suggested “No whining Wednesday, but wining is okay.” And, she suggested, I might illustrate with a little wine glass by the wining, for those who might not be up on their homonyms.

So now this writer started ILLUSTRATING her words. Thankfully, chalk is a VERY forgiving medium. Passersby, being neighborly, kindly tolerated — heck, they even seemed to approve of my kindergarten drawing skills!

So “No Whining Wednesday” became “Thoughtful Thursday.” It was, after all, Maundy Thursday, the day we sit at table for the Last Supper with the one bound to save us. And then we were on to “Good Friday, neighbors.” That day we even received appreciative fan mail on an index card left by the sign.

This was getting serious. The bar was raising as increasing appreciation meant greater expectation. Sober Saturday, though it felt that way to me, didn’t seem encouraging enough, so now I had reached the second stage of sign-making: editing. I drew a line through Sober and wrote Silly, leaving the reader free to decide which their Saturday was. Who, really, was I to say?

But then came Sunday. Easter Sunday. “Serene Sunday,” the sign said. But was it? Certainly like no other Easter ever. All of us separated, one from the other, listening, watching, wishing, sending… Everywhere people were piping in Easter, but it didn’t feel like one.

But the sign proclaimed it anyway; this blank slate of an accidental chalk ordering had actually come to communal life. People riding slowed to catch today’s message. People doubled back to be sure they hadn’t missed it. One neighbor told me she drove out of her way on the way to work just to be encouraged by it.

What in the world? Well, yes, we did have some fanfare for Earth Day. One person even crossed the street to snap a photo of that one.

And Froggie Friday, that was a request. Wouldn’t you know we had frog visitors at the house that day?

Funny, it is only a sign propped up daily; a few chalked words and occasional amateur illustrations, then erased every evening to welcome the new day. It’s an original work of art with a 24 hour time limit. Who’d have thought something so temporary could stand the test of these times? Yet, day by day, it’s the gift we receive; the opportunity to write our way into each new day.

Last Sunday was “Sandhill Sunday! You say, Sandhill. We say, Sunday.” (Our community is called Sandhill Preserve, so there was a certain team spirit invested in that one.) Passersby waved and thanked, cars and bikes slowed to fist pump and smile and the curious circled extra wide to come looking.

There’s just something about an encouraging word or two and a community who needs one. I’m betting you live in such a community and you, my reader, are just such a writer.

We’ve been at this since April the 6th when it was “Monday, you’re welcome.” Expectations remain low and appreciation, high. Suggestions keep rolling in. There’s never been a better time to use your words well.

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Suddenly gone: a season of loss without losing

Something was taken without your permission. Stolen while you weren’t looking. Nipped in the bud. Just as it was blooming, coming together, looking up, coming to fruition. So much hope. So much potential. So much.

Without asking, they shut down your season, closed your show, before you even had a chance to take the stage. It was over before it began. Cancelled until further notice. All you were looking forward to is now not even a memory. Not even a loss or a defeat or a failure. It just … isn’t.

Absence. Without consummation. Missing In Action. Gone without a trace. Oh my, closure. Lotta folks gonna need closure. Because what might have been is no longer. Lives. Livelihood. Hope. Gone missing. In an instant.

There’s a house down the street I’ve often noticed — even though I try not to — where a black and grey flag has been flying for quite some time now. Years really. Decades actually. P.O.W. MIA. Wonder if they’d talk to me. Share their wisdom and resolve. Help me get through this.

My loss is really quite nothing compared to theirs. Maybe we could talk about it. About how it feels to lose something, Someone … what it does to you, how you get by, how you go on, day to day.

Holy Redeemer, comfort us in our losing. Sustain us in our hardship. Create in us a heart that reaches, that holds, that loves. Till the soil of that garden you’ve been planting, even the one born of despair, for you know the plans you have for us, to give us hope and a future. Us, not I.

In the days’ dimness, let there be light.

Our Tower of Babble

We are in a babbling time, even a blabbering time.

So much assaults our ears, our minds, our tendencies. There is so much to get our hackles up over, to take sides on, to gossip about and share with our friends.

Enough already. This mobile device I have in my pocket has its uses, but somehow our consulting it has turned us against one another. Our rampant googling presumes to make us each an authority over the other. Somehow the fingertip availability of the internet has succeeded in garbling our words, as we climb one upon the other in order to shout the loudest from the tallest point.

There is something very wrong, yet very familiar, about this. It has me consulting Genesis 11:1-9 where I read the troubling story of the tower of Babel.

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 11:1-9 NIV

Are we in our own tower of Babel time? In these days, have we become so engrossed in our “connecting” through the internet and “building” relationships online that we are failing to see and hear what’s true, what’s noble, what’s right, what’s pure, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, and all that is excellent and praiseworthy in our midst? (from Phil 4:8) Because this is what we are charged with doing. And what’s more, these things are what are meant to shape our thinking, and convict or confirm us in our doing.

So, if all of this babbling is distracting me from my purpose, then I had best set aside the shouting going on around me and attend to the whisper within me that says, “You know Me. I am here. Talk to Me. Confirm with Me. Ask questions of Me.”

The best way I know to do this I have set to writing in, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.* God has given me this life and this body in which to live it. God expects better from me, and I believe, better from all of us tuned into the God channel.

Today, God has reminded me, Wendy, if you’re having a problem with the way your world is working, you hold in your hands the way I have given you to come and find me again. Get out that book of yours and the Book of mine and let’s work our way through it.

Friends, will you join me for Made to Move online? I will post the writings and welcome daily comments at the blog on my author website. (https://wendylebolt.com/) We’ll kick off this Sunday! Let’s gather there and leave the babble on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the others behind.

*Learn more about Made to Move and order print or digital versions here.

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