So it’s Friday morning, which usually means I get to sleep in a bit, since Cheri doesn’t work today. “Usually” is used fairly loosely, since for some reason, instead of going some where else in the house, our lunatic Siamese cat went off on a tear, and must have shot across the breakfast nook, the dining room, the living room, and down the hall to make a quick left turn into our bedroom where he proceeded to sound like a howling banshee, and then took off again, flying through the living room like a real knucklehead. The sound of a cat’s battle cry is indeed enough to wake the dead, or at least the sound-asleep person in the bed.
Fine – I’m up. A cup of coffee (or two) and a scan through the important news items on my computer, all the while having a conversation with my dear wife. “Maybe we should go grocery shopping while it’s still early…” Please recognize that, while I had to get up earlier than I wanted to, Cheri wakes up without an alarm – even on her day off – at about 4 am. By the time I woke up at 7am, she had already had her breakfast, done a dozen little tasks and even did the work that she brought home from the clinic. By 7:15, she had nothing else on her list to do, except go grocery shopping. I actually had other plans, like writing this column and other ways to slowly enter the day, without wearing a dumb face mask. I politely declined her idea, and though we could as easily go out this afternoon.
Silence. As I was pouring my second (or third) cup of coffee, she quietly began her campaign. “I can just go to the grocery store all by myself if you don’t want to.” “Maybe I’ll just get dressed (she already was dressed) and go run some other errands (which would end at the grocery store…)” I swear she is perhaps the sweetest person who ever lived, but she is also dramatically persistent. The game was over with two moves. I went and got dressed, and we headed over to what perhaps is in my list of ten things I hate to do during the pandemic. I won’t go over the list, but you can imagine what they happen to be…
So we grocery shopped, and had a grand time. Frankly, for the past number of months it felt less like getting groceries as it did laying up provisions. After spending way more than we needed or I wanted, we completed the task and began our drive home.
It was there that I saw it. Lying all by itself in the passing lane of the street was a tiny, very cute black and white tennis shoe. It was the size shoe that would never wear out, since the owner of the shoe most likely spent more time on his or her (probably his) knees crawling than actually walking. I would guess that the owner was about 12-18 months, maybe younger. We laughed when we saw the shoe sitting there, and then both of us said at the same time, “Oh no – how did it get there?”
Imagination is a fun tool to use at times. We started speculating about different things that could have happened, but the one with the highest plausibility was that it was THROWN there. Thrown out the opened passenger window by little hands and strong little arms that decided they didn’t want to wear the little shoe any more, and after it got pulled of the tiny foot, the only reasonable place it could go was to be fired out the window, while Mommy or Daddy blissfully drove along, unaware that part of a wardrobe had just left the building…
I then began to think about what was next. After they got home, and the packages were unloaded, it was time to unstrap the kid from his car seat. It was a tossup as to whether the parent noticed the one-shoe-off, one-shoe-on look as they picked up the child. My bet is that if it were the dad, there would have been blissful ignorance. Whether it was at that moment, or after they got in the house, the same question, which parents for years have asked, was uttered, “What happened to your other shoe?” Foolishly thinking that it just came off in the car (which it did, before it was chucked out the window), the parent went out to retrieve it from under the seat, or by the car seat, or somewhere. Not there. They retraced their steps into the house, thinking that it fell off during that trip – maybe it rolled under the car, or fell off by the shelving. Nope. The shoe at that point became AWOL, and the perpetrator of the devilish act wasn’t talking. He was probably just trying to get the other shoe off.
So now, you see, they are going to have to go buy a new pair of shoes, with masks and stores that have all sorts of rules. All because SOMEBODY threw a shoe.
What we do in life has consequences. Every time. Some are small deals, and some are huge, and some fall in between. Still, it alters our lives, just a little. We are changed when someone throws a shoe out the window, at least in what must become another chore, another task, another expense. Sometimes it huge, as when the other person says, “I do,” and you reply the same. Those consequences have holy shades of light and dark to them.
We can’t escape them, but I believe with all my heart that the more we are able to act intentionally in life, even when we can’t predict every consequence, at least we can expect them to fall closer to where we planned the future. When we do so accidentally, however, nothing is predictable, except that we will most likely find ourselves trying to figure out where that darn shoe is. I’d rather expect joy than frustration. And to do so intentionally. Blessings on today.
Word for the day: churlish. Actually, I found the word “nabalism,” but the only reference I could find was that it meant “churlishism.” So, I searched out what it meant to be churlish, since it is notably an adjective, a descriptor. CHUR-lish. It’s one of those words that was very simple to begin with, but then collected shades of behavior over time. The word comes from Old English, cierlisc, which of course means “of or pertaining to churls.” So, a churl is also Old English, ceorl, which meant simply, “peasant.” More specifically, it was the lowest class of freepersons in English society, just above a serf, a cottager, of a slave, who all were under the thumb of the ruler.
Churl over the years took on the meaning of the behavior of the churl – they were most often rude, vulgar, boorish, even sullen and surly. It meant the opposite of royalty or even culture. They came from the ground, and no one expected anything of them. To be churlish, then, was to be just plain rude and vulgar, and to act poorly in front of others.
Strangely enough, through time, the word also flipped over in its meaning, and in French became “king.” Our best example is a relative of mine – Charlemagne, which is not only from Charlie (meaning “freeman,”) but from churly. It probably meant king of the people. All you Charles out there – try not to be too churlish.
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.