Ever have something kind of freaky just happen? Unexpected, unexplainable, and well, just kind of weird? I have -- or at least I had, until two days ago, a sweet set of plates by the artist Mimi Jungbluth. They are pictures on plates of two little Navaho children, dressed in traditional garb, that I have owned for probably 35 years or so. Long ago I found a nice double frame meant for the plates, and have hung them in every office I’ve had, which probably counts up to seven different walls over the years.
Two days ago, they just fell off the wall. I was about four feet away, when there was a sudden and hugely noisy crash. You know when those kind of things happen, when you aren’t expecting them at all, that for a moment you are almost paralyzed – the only thing you can say is, “What was that?!” Which I did say, and then looked over at the wall, which now was empty. As I jumped up out of my office chair, I looked over to the floor, and there was the plate frame upside down. Of course, I knew it could only mean the plates were destroyed, and the frame and glass was broken, and so as I reached over to pick it up, I saw that the wire used to hold the frame on the hook was intact. Turning the thing over, the plates looked as good as new, and even the piece of glass was fine, without even a scratch.
This was very strange, because that corner of my office looks a bit like an old warehouse. I have three stoneware crocks right below where the frame hung, and a couple of stoneware jugs, just because I don’t have anywhere to put them right now. I also have two boxes of packed jigsaw puzzles that we are planning on taking over to the charity store to donate. Oh, don’t forget the tire inflator that I haven’t put away in the garage yet, and the two other small prints that I also am looking to figure out where to hang. Basically, there is a pretty good mess in that corner, with lots of very hard, and able-to-break things sitting there. I know – it’s a mess, and Randy, you ARE retired, and you probably could take about an hour and clean up the place, couldn’t you? Yes, I could, but there is no urgency, and I’m really the only one who spends any time in the office, so I figure I have time.
Anyway – back to the story – I picked up the frame and its contents, looked it all over – there was a little chunk out of the wood on the back side of the frame, that no one will notice – but the whole thing was fine. Apparently, the hook that held the picture on the wall just fell out, and dropped the frame to the floor.
So the weird part? When I moved from Rapid City to Fargo six years ago – six years ago – I took the hook and hammered it into the wall, and hung the plates there. For six years, they have been very satisfied to hang there, and I must say I used the same hook to hang the plates for 35 years, without a single event. Now, I didn’t have the window open, so that a strong breeze might dislodge it. No one was pounding on walls anywhere in the house, and it’s an outside wall, so no one was putting up scaffolding or anything. There was no reason for the frame to fall, for the hook to fall out of the wall, or for such a strange thing at all to occur.
No – the house isn’t haunted, and I don’t believe in that kind of stuff anyway, unless I am the only one in the house and it’s late at night, and I have to walk up from the basement with all the lights off. Of course, then you know you hear stuff all the time, right? This happened on a bright summer morning, and was loud enough to send Adam up the stairs to the office to ask what the heck happened, since it echoed through the floor, apparently.
It just fell. It’s now sitting on the floor by my chair, the little Navaho kids still smiling and happy. I’m a pretty good investigator, since we have numerous episodes of things that happen around our house that require, like the National Transportation Safety Board, an explanation. Usually I can find the reason for whatever it was that happened, or hire someone to figure it out, and we can move on from there. This however will go down in the “who knows?” category, and I will dig out a bigger, stronger hook, and replace the frame on the wall. The word, “mystery” is a great word, but hardly exists from the way it was created. It was Greek, mysterion, which actually meant a secret rite or doctrine. We have claimed it in our secular word to be anything that is not readily understood. Mystery writers begin with a plot and unanswered questions that eventually, when given the challenge by a sleuth or an investigator, will uncover the truth, like Sherlock Holmes, or Miss Marple – or Scooby-doo.
So we will leave it a mystery. Just one of those kind of funky things that happen from time to time. They aren’t accidents or failures – they just happen. I guess that’s part of the exciting stuff of living in the world. A lot we can explain, and another whole lot, we just experience. Maybe someday I’ll ask God why the frame fell off the wall, but most likely, if I am asking that question in heaven, God will say, “Really? Here you are in heaven, and you are filling your mind with that? Look around, and forget what you don’t know!”
That may be a good rule to follow today, even while we are on this earth.
Word for the day: velleity. Pronounced vuh-LEE-i-tee. It’s a great word, in part because of how worthless it is. It comes originally from the Latin root velle, which means “to want to.” However, as the word has progressed through language, it present meaning is defined as a wish with no effort to attain it. One definition is “the lowest degree of initiative.” Velleity is a perfect word while you are sitting out on the back patio, or a dock by a lake on such a warm summer’s day. You indeed may come up with something that sounds like it might be fun or important to do, but you know as soon as you say it that there is no way in all creation it’s going to get done. “We should paint the living room!” “We should learn how to hang glide!” When actually, what we will do is pretty much sit there, and enjoy a day as it passes by without having to shovel the sidewalk after a foot of snow…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.