We carry messages around all the time and we drop them into the middle of group of people sometimes with little or no thought. Often we throw these messages along the sidewalk as we pass, and leave them on the table at the restaurant where we just had lunch. Sometimes these messages are actual words we speak and sometimes they are waving energy that pours off us spreading positive or negative shocks to those we pass by. As humans we are bundle of messages all the time. With just a glance we can have a child feel like they are royalty. Or a different glance can cut away at self esteem and break an innocent heart. The messages we put into the world are life altering and most often we underestimate their power.
Last week while driving down a country road lined with apple orchards and brilliant, red barns, we came across someone’s attempt to be clear and intentional about their messages. Along the road flanked by prairie grasses stood a sign with the painted words ‘good thoughts’. On the edge of the sign was a hook and above the hook was painted the word ‘be’. Hanging on the hook was another painted, wooden sign that simply said ‘flexible’. The sum of the message? A good thought is ‘ be flexible’. We stopped the car so I could get a closer look. I was interested to see if there was some other message printed on the other side of the ‘flexible’. It was empty. Clearly these were one-of-a-kind signs that were changed out every now and then.
I have thought about this sign and the sign maker ever since. I imagined a workshop someplace where a person is using up all their old paint left over from house projects to send a ‘good thought’ into the world. I imagined the person thinking of all the words that might follow ‘be’. Be.. kind….be….gentle….be…loving….be…helpful…be…still….be…humble….be…honest….be….funny..There was an endless string of good thoughts that might follow the word ‘be’.
I wondered at how this person had come to plant this sign and its invitation in this pastoral scene. What led them to do such a thing? Perhaps it was the realization that, if we are sending messages all the time any way, they might as well be bold about it. The idea made me laugh and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. Then I imagined someone driving down that road, perhaps wound tight with all kinds of anxiety or worry, trying to be in control of one of the many things we humans believe we can be. And just when they needed it most, a sign appears….be flexible. They might see the whole thing as glimpse of divine intervention.
What messages are you hoping to round the corner and see? What message do you hope to deliver this day? Maybe we all should go digging in our garages or wherever that left over paint is kept and we should all start painting. Good thoughts….good thoughts…..be….be….be good thoughts.
It couldn’t hurt.