Archive | June 2012

Lessons from a Lady Clown

She sat back in a corner of the parking garage surrounded by hundreds of people, dozens of children especially.  It was hot.  It was noisy.  It was crowded.  We discovered her on a quest for restrooms.

Before her on the table lay much used Ziploc bags and airless balloons waiting to be blown up. She had the colorful, big hair wig, red nose, gay costume of large blocks of color and the painted smiling clown make-up including the smile.  But I noticed she wasn’t smiling.  Beneath the layers of white and gaily colored make-up this lady clown was sad.  I also noticed she paid no attention to the impatience of the children in front of her.  In turn, they paid no attention to the signs her manner was giving to them.

She was blind.

Her careful twisting of the balloons into either the shape of a dog or a hat was completed with great care.  I wondered why, for some of the children were very impatient, the children who longed to rush off to join in other activities stayed if they couldn’t wait.  She wouldn’t see.  They didn’t see.

Once a child reached the spot beside her the Lady Clown had them select the number of balloons she’d need to make their chosen object – dog or hat.  It wasn’t until then that some of the children realized the clown was blind.  So many of them reacted visibly shooting glances at their impatient parent waiting to move on, mouths falling open but it seemed an equal number never realized the Lady Clown couldn’t see them.  Or the balloons.  Or the crowd.  Or the finished products taking shape beneath her fingers.

My heart wept inside for her.  I wasn’t sure what brought her into this noisy crowd that day.  Perhaps a desire to be a part of something larger than herself.  Or maybe the need for human contact.  Or maybe the simple reason was a need to give a part of herself away.  Clearly, whatever her motivation for being there was, if it was to make her happy it was not succeeding.

We left the Greek Festival, my daughter clutching a balloon hat and my heart straying back again to the Lady Clown.  I had to fight the temptation to ask my daughter to treat the hat with extra gentleness, to not play with it, wear it and eventually pop it because the toy she held was a piece of a woman’s heart.

I wondered if someone would come to help the Lady Clown home.  To gather her belongings and help her take her clown costume and make-up off…to return to the woman she was in daily life.

Was she lonely?  Was she loved?  Did she have children who were now grown with children of their own?

I understood, at least I believe I did, her desire to give what she could to make the event of her church successful…to want to feel a part of something larger than the limitations of her disability.  I prayed God would take the gift she was giving, which of course, really wasn’t balloons at all, and return it to her a hundred times a hundred.  I also prayed the Lady Clown’s face would wear a real smile on her face, even if again she wore one also painted on.

 

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The Cycles of Life

My husbands GPS took us through a maze of backroads that claimed to be highways through a host of “used to be” towns on our way to Florida.  We drove past farm after farm of pecan trees.  We swept by boarded up, decaying, rusty sign flapping, weeds overtaken buildings that were once homes, churches, gas stations and Mom and Pop stores.  Now and then I’d spot a home not yet given over to the elements of age and time where signs of a struggle to keep both at bay was often evident.Image

A person whose mind thinks differently would probably see the same roadside sightings and calculate the costs of the waste.  And perhaps the cost of tearing it all down and beginning again.

Those whose talents lay in restoration and contracting might look at details I didn’t see in order to determine if anything could be salvaged.  Could wood be reclaimed?  Could anything be repurposed?

Me?  All I could think of centered on what I couldn’t see…the people who had once occupied the towns and their buildings.  Someone had built “Angel’s Kitchen” from cinder block.  Someone had entered it’s single wooden door and found a seat and ordered a meal.  Worshippers had climbed the once stout steps into the small single room churches.  Children had darted among their friends, families and neighbors as mothers herded them towards the pews.  Pop had pumped gas for a farmer’s wife while Mom bagged a teenager’s grocery list items for their grandmother.  These towns, homes, businesses and churches were once occupied by PEOPLE and I wondered onto pages of my journal, “where did they go”?

Did the lure of city life outweigh the simpllicity of small town life for young adults who moved away and never returned except for the holidays?  Had hard times sent people away, unable to keep mind, body and soul afloat under the crush of financial burdens?  Did widows and widowers pass on leaving their worldly possessions to no one and they crumble even now into dust?

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I’ve no doubt someone at some time will come along and most likely knock the old down and build up new.  These silent testiments to lives now past will not stand against time forever.  It all will cycle around again given enough time.

How like our relationships with God.  In our hearts are decaying reminders of our promises to do for Him.  In our minds are memories of what seemed like easier times.  Our souls recall the “mountain top” moments with God and the valley wanderings when He seemed so far away.  Lessons learned today we will, in our pride and arrogrance or simple forgetfullness, have to learn again.

And like these now abandoned towns waiting for the touch of a master’s hand with a master design for renovation we so often wait for God tol bring forth life again of our abadoned towns, our broken hearts.  Life cycles on and on, never stopping to rest or re-invent itself, ever cycling, ever changing…

We pass on past the lost towns and look forward to “civilization” again.  I most likely will not pass through these places again.   But as our hotel comes into sight I’m reminded God sees these places, He knows the people who lived and loved there and He will bring forth for His glory the next cycle of life.

Modern Day Hero #2: Elbert Williams a.k.a. “Uncle Bert”

The news of Uncle Bert’s death shortly after my mother’s death was devastating to me.  The last time I had seen him was at my mother’s funeral and we’d had no time to talk.

Elbert Williams, known to most of us Baptist Student Union (now known as Baptist Campus Ministries) students as “Uncle Bert” was a man exactly where God called him to be.  When I transferred in to Troy State University as a junior he didn’t let me “slip through the cracks”.  His door was always open.  His advice was always free but Biblically based.  His heart was walking right along with us as we walked the collegiate portion of our lives.

He was the grandfather I’d never known, a replacement father since I found hard to love my Dad, a man of God who cared that each of us develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ.  He was my confidant, my cheerleader, my defender and the first man who BELIEVED God had a plan for my life.  Even when I disappointed him and made decisions he didn’t approve of he didn’t stop speaking to me or withhold himself.

Uncle Bert challenged me especially concerning spiritual foundations I’d come to TSU firmly grounded in that went against God’s word.  He was a huge part of my life while I was at TSU and long after.

I miss him to this day and as we plan a reunion for TSU’s Homecoming this October and gather at the BCM building (remodeled of course) a part of me will be aware that someone is missing among us.  He’s just another reason I long for my “heavenly home”.

Hope you’re having a blast in Heaven Uncle Bert, you deserve more than I can describe and I pray I told you enough how much you meant to me while we both occupied this planet.

Faithfully,

Faye