Photographs

Without Words

Cans

 

Presumptions were made on my part 

as you approached me, I noticed

your gold colored t-shirt that was worn backwards;

dirt stains splattered across your pants and the back side of your shirt

led me to think that your daily walk was street-held.

 

I stood at the cash register, 

as you came in the wooden double doors

Your approach towards the counter brought a look of hesitation, 

a reluctance encompassed your walk filled pace.

“Do you have a black marker I can borrow?

I have some words to write on a box.” 

 

It is not unusual to see one, maybe two, maybe three

pairs of hands on nearby street corners with a cardboard sign

each pleading for coins to get through the day, the week, the month, 

marker-ed scribbling

voice the words that the hands and heart need.

 

I hadn’t seen you on the corners before

Your dirt stained hand stretched out to mine

A black marker was left, help you did find.

“Please make sure you bring it back.”

 

Through a pane of glass I watched…a world away,

as you decided what words you needed to say. 

Your hand moved from corner to corner 

leaving lettering that I couldn’t read.

 

Back through the doors you came, 

A different walk, not the same. 

A smile and assurance written on your face

A young man on a mission, a young man knowing his place.

 

Handing me the marker, with an outstretched hand,

You voiced a “Thank you.”  and turned and continued 

to attend to what your heart did demand 

 

Hours passed, my shift ended

The marker request, not forgotten, but put aside 

until I saw that gold t-shirt across the way,

in the middle of a lot where cars park 

in the middle of the day.

No window pane, no worlds distant and far away.

 

I drove closer,  to see where your box might be,

it wasn’t there. 

Did you change your mind about what others should hear and see?

As I inched closer, you bent down 

picking discarded candy wrappers and plastic cellophane  up off the ground.

White plastic bag, in your hand, the contents was clear to see

As the weight of your bag showed your work, your mission, 

Your heart called that day …your current destiny

 

I started to go and wondered if you were hungry

or why it might be that you chose to clean  a parking lot of its debris.

Was someone paying you?

Wouldn’t standing at the corner with your scribbled words

be easier on such a hot day?

I rolled down my window and asked

“Where’s your box, the one where you needed to write upon,

did it not work, is it gone?”

 

With that reassured smile you stated,

 “Oh yes, it works just fine, 

it’s over there on the corner

where those who feel the need,

 can drop cans in it and keep the streets litter free.

Isn’t it sad, how careless people can be? 

I put some rocks inside the box, so it wouldn’t blow away…please know I’ll take the rocks out, 

when I pick the box up at the end of the day. ”

 

A lump in my throat, tears welled up inside

As I listened to you, while you stood there in those dirt stained clothes

with only your heart to display and confide.

 

I asked, “Are you hungry, are you doing ok?”

You hesitated with reluctance and a smile, 

“I’m ok for now, for a little while.”

 

I reached into my change holder and and pulled the few dollars that were there

I took them out and handed them to you, 

wanted you to know that someone noticed and cared. 

“Well, thank you for cleaning up the parking lot, when others are careless and don’t think about what they do.

Here’s a little something to perhaps take a break and get a drink for you.”

 

You stretched out your hand,

A little dirtier than before

Your face lit up and your words took me by surprise,

“If it’s ok, I’d like to go buy another box

to put on this other side. 

People need  a place to put their trash so they don’t 

clutter up the outside.”

 

We talked for a few minutes more, 

I left you to your work,

I realized…you were fed with God’s heart given chore. 

I drove away, feeling somewhat ashamed

Of presumptions made,  and not doing enough

asking myself, what I could do, 

what more?

 

The wheels of my car turned as I crossed the parking lot, 

past a man who stood at the corner with cardboard in his hand,

tears fell, 

as I knew what my heart did command.

 

I pulled over and looked for my wallet

did I have any more cash that I could give,

Do I give it to the man with cardboard in his hand 

Or the young man with a heart command. 

 

It was then, I saw the gold colored t-shirt, 

walking up to Walmart with his debris filled sack.

Depositing his bag into the can left outside the doors, 

He disappeared….went inside…perhaps a box…a drink  to buy.

I will  wait until he comes back to finish his chores. 

 

While I waited, I drove over to the  place where a cardboard box had been placed,

I read the words scribbled from corner to corner. “Cans”

I  got out and looked inside and there were rocks strewn about and a few crushed cans that didn’t hide.

What more could I do, my heart prayed…fill his box on this day.

 

I went back to the place where I work,

to the blue recycle bin  that held aluminium cans 

Tied the bag together and 

left with what God’s heart called and did demand. 

 

Not really knowing if this was the right thing to do

but I took the bag and placed it in your box.

I smiled through tear filled eyes…oh what a surprise. 

No more words to say, 

the “more” was done on this given moment, this given day.

 

You taught me to do more than I set out to do that day

You followed a command and scribbled some words on a box

and on a woman’s heart in your own special way. 

Coincidence?

 

Compass

Life keeps moving forward. Right now, I’m just sitting back and allowing life to fall into place.  As of June 1, I am a retired public school teacher.  I tried retiring early a couple of years ago and a ton of chaos occurred…it simply wasn’t the right time.  As I look back on the two years that took place after trying to force retirement, I understand now that I simply had some people to meet up with.  Those people made me a better person and I think I left a bit of myself with them as well.  Retirement this time around is much calmer and is the right time in so many ways.

A teacher is never really retired.  Teaching continues.  Yesterday, I received a message while I was at the lumber yard.  It was hotter than blazes, but I stood in the brick section and face-timed with a student that I had my first year of teaching.  I hear from her occasionally, but not usually through the face-time way of communicating. She was walking through a crossroad of life and reached out to talk about it with me.    As we talked, she reflected on how things in her life seem to be coming back around to the same place, no matter where she went, no matter with whom she was with.

Two other similar conversations took place over the last few weeks with two other former students. One from my 5th year of teaching and the other from my 10th year of teaching.  All three of these young ladies faced trauma in three totally different ways in their childhoods. All three are extremely strong willed and determined young women trying to figure life out.  They each are raising babies of their own now.

As I think about the commonalities and the differences in these three young ladies lives, I realize the common thread among them is myself.  I was placed into their lives in their upper elementary school years.  The traumas each of them faced, were not easy situations to go through at the 4th or 6th grade level. I remember just loving them through it all, that’s all I knew to do.

Interestingly enough, these three and the recent contact I’ve had with them are feeding into my latest journey of “what’s next” in my life.  I’ve got a pulling on my heart, been happening for a while now, to put together a plan to help young  mothers and older women facing financial and emotional challenges in their life.  I have placed chart paper on my kitchen wall with the sketching of some sort of plan and interestingly enough, those three girls’ names were on the chart before they even contacted me over the last few weeks.  The plan is unfolding more and more each day that goes by.

The conversation in the middle of the bricks yesterday, led to a question “Is it just a coincidence that I keep coming back to this one place?”  My response was….”The more I live out my own life, I understand that nothing is a coincidence. Pay attention to those things that keep reappearing, there’s something there that you need to work through. There’s something there that you need to do for yourself or perhaps someone else.  Don’t ignore their reoccurrence. ”

That young lady didn’t know it, but she helped to verify the path I’m on today.  The compass keeps pointing the way, it’s up to us to keep moving forward in the direction that is laid out for us.

Today, I realize more than ever, that not only does the teaching continue, but the learning as well….nothing is a coincidence.

 

*** As I started to leave this website, I went to my email….I was reminded that another young student from 2 years ago contacted me back at the first of June.  She sent me a random email through my school account to ask how my last school year went.  We have passed several emails back and forth.  Significant? Coincidence? ….only time will tell. Ha.

Peregrination

Map    ZcwR1pSdQeqT3YNXKGaAQQ

Lines drawn create order,

progression  is predetermined and known by everyone

Arriving in a timely manner increases when wandering

away from lineation is avoided.

Are you a line follower?

 

October 10, 2019

Lines that zig and zag

brings adventure and the unknown into light

leaving an arrival time undetermined

and filled with destination anticipation.

Are you a zigger, zagger?

 

 

What’s Important?

I sat down to a cup of coffee this morning, glanced down at the notepad on the table and put yesterday evenings events into perspective.

Here in this part of Kansas, our evening was full of weather alerts and anxiousness about family and friends in the path of a destructive tornado that was reported to be 1/2 mile wide. It stayed on the ground for over 40 minutes moving wherever it pleased at its own pace. The last report I heard before going to bed was debris being dropped onto the Kansas City airport runway stopping all flights.

Not everyone is getting up to their morning routine this morning. Their lives changed within moments. Their lives altered by something that wasn’t in their control. Life took a turn in an unknown direction for the small city of Linwood, Kansas and those south of Lawrence, Kansas and other areas as well.

As I look at my grandson’s grocery list and think about questions and explanations that came up while the weather reports and photos appeared on the tv screen, it really comes down to “people” regardless whether we know them or not.

There are a lot of things we control, like our grocery list, but there are so many more that we can’t and never will be able to control.

We are living in a time of staying ahead of those things we can’t control. Storm shelters, weather watchers, alarm systems, better house construction, dams etc. are the ways we try to have some control in flooding situations, or tornadoes or a hurricane situation. Flooding has been threatening our area for over a month now. The dams that man has built are holding but clearly can only do so much.

Praying and a faith that God will take us through whatever comes at us is called upon to comfort and to give us a sense that “something” larger than us will have to protect us. When you are sitting in a storm shelter waiting for the storm to pass, praying is all that’s left.

Right now, I pray for those of you reading this that the safety of our Heavenly Father wraps around you and your loved ones. May you know that whatever storm you are passing through is only temporary and can be placed in Hands larger than ours. Control what you can but leave the rest to our Heavenly Father.

Last thoughts; Last nights storm could have taken so much more than it did…last report I heard 6 people went to the hospital, all alive and recovering. The pictures I saw this morning shows the control that wasn’t in anyone’s hands, yet the control of a power larger than us that protected so many from injury.

Stories of advance warnings, narrow escapes, time in shelter, rescue workers and recovery efforts are being shared. It’s truly all about the people.