All our words are written in chalk
Out in the rain on the sidewalk
If all our heartaches were in a stack
They’d go all the way to heaven and back
(“Chalk” written by Buddy and Julie Miller)
One of the gifts that we have given to our granddaughter, at least the one who is now two-years old, is sidewalk chalk. With the wife having artistic tendencies it was only natural that the granddaughter got some chalk to draw and scribble on the sidewalk . . . after all, we have plenty of sidewalk for her to let her artistic side rip. Of course, a two-year old is not much of an artist—mostly colorful scribbles of the abstract variety . . . and, not always on the sidewalk. But, it is cool as her sidewalk art is always a wonderful reminder of her presence in our lives well after she and the rest of her family have headed back to the big city.
One of my favorite episodes of Happy Days happened in the first year of the series when Richie Cunningham was attempting to woo a young lady. One of his friends suggested that he draw the young lady a chalk picture on the sidewalk that she walked to go home after school each day. With great thought, Richie drew a message . . . and eye, heart, and a female sheep. Of course everyone—including the object of his infatuation—thought that the message read: “I love sheep.” Now a female sheep is a ewe . . . Richie’s message was: “I love you.” Thankfully, with the first rain, the message was washed away.
That is the problem with writing things in chalk . . . the first rain that comes along washes it all away . . . washes it gone. Nothing is left but a memory of what was declared. Isn’t that a lot like life?
Lately I have been thinking that much, if not all, of life and what it holds is written in chalk. There are no promises in life . . . no guarantees. Life is a journey . . . an adventure . . . in which there is nothing that is assured outside of a beginning and an ending. Nothing. It is all written in chalk . . . waiting to be erased by the first drops of the rain.
I have a friend whose sister has been struggling with cancer . . . a roller coaster battle. This sister is a really neat individual. I really like her and what she represents . . . to use vernacular that is no longer used, she is cool; but cancer has really derailed her in the prime of her life. Cancer came out of the dark and threw her life in disarray just when it seemed like everything was falling into place. And, like just about anyone, she has tried to fight the good fight to beat the cancer . . . she clung to hope . . . but, there are no guarantees, no promises, no assurances that everything will work out the way that we all hope it will. Today, in hopes of removing the tumor, it was discovered that it was pretty much inoperable . . . that there was nothing anyone could do despite all the prayers and words of hope. In flash the words—written in chalk, were washed away. It breaks the heart.
When our daughter had our first grandchild she struggled with post-partum depression. It really threw her for a loop. It was not easy to watch her struggle with the darkness that enveloped her life. It was far from what she imagined the birth of her first child would be. This happy-go-lucky individual who loved to embrace life and dance its dance, was floored. It was not what was written in chalk . . . but, she got through it. With the second grandchild things looked better . . . there was no darkness in the beginning, but it came knocking on the door once again. The picture she had pictured . . . the image drawn in chalk on the sidewalk of life . . . was washed away in the rain of depression. But, she is steadily beating it. Yet, parenthood hasn’t been everything she imagined it would be. Written in chalk . . . and, it breaks the heart.
I think that is true for most of us. I think that we all grab that sidewalk chalk and create masterpieces of life that we want . . . beautiful images of what we hope will happen for each of us. Yet, we forget that there are no promises . . . no assurances . . . no guarantees . . . that those drawings will ever be what we drew them to be. No, because the rain always comes to wash them away.
People are not always who we think they are. Illnesses wreak havoc on our bodies and lives. Accidents happen. People fall out of love. Pregnancies don’t work out the way we expect. Children choose their own paths. People lie. Wars break out. People kill. Old age comes along with all of its friends. People cheat. Prejudices erupt. Rules are broken. As they say in all twelve-step programs . . . poop happens. Yet, we still draw in chalk on the sidewalk . . . hoping. Hoping it never rains.
But it rains . . . it always . . . eventually rains.
The quote at the start of this blog is from a song by Buddy and Julie Miller called Chalk. It is a haunting song about an individual’s love for another . . . another with a problem that renders him or her incapable of overcoming the issues that weigh him or her down. In their minds there is one image, in their lives there is a whole different reality. The relationship is going down the drain. The image in chalk is being washed away in the rain of life. No promises, no assurances, no guarantees . . . all our words are written in chalk . . . out in the rain on the sidewalk. So goes life . . . written in chalk on the sidewalk.
Now, don’t get me wrong . . . life is good despite the fact that there are no promises. Life is what it is. Most of us try to make the best of what it deals us. Yet, it is good to remind ourselves from time to time . . . especially when we get hung up on how crappy it can get for us, that life still goes on. With or without us, life goes on. And, it helps to remember that there is a hell of a lot of chalk in the world . . . chalk of every color under the rainbow . . . chalk to grab and keep on drawing on the sidewalk. Over and over again, we have to keep picking up the chalk and drawing the pictures . . . drawing our dreams . . . drawing our hope. We have to because sometimes they come true . . . sometimes they are better than we ever imagined, better than we could ever draw.
At the end of the song Chalk, the singer sings: “We don’t know all the trouble we’re in, we don’t know how to get home again, Jesus come and save us from our sin.” We are never alone . . . we are never abandoned no matter how abandoned we feel. If the rain comes down and washes our chalk away, pick up the chalk and draw again.
For my friend whose sister has relapsed into cancer with very little hope . . . whose mother is struggling with the curse of dementia . . . I grab the chalk and draw. I draw of our relationship over the years . . . I draw the laughter and the tears . . . I draw the love . . . and, I always will. For my daughter who struggles with the darkness of depression caused by the crazy way that the body responds to birth . . . I grab the chalk and draw . . . I draw sunshine and light . . . I draw laughter in the midst of tears . . . I draw love . . . and, I always will. For all those whose lives have strayed from where they had hoped . . . I draw. The rain may come and wash the chalk drawings and words off the sidewalk, but it can never remove the images I hold within my heart.
I realize how fragile life is whenever I reflect upon the chalk scribblings my granddaughter has left behind . . . but, I have love. Love generates hope. No matter what life throws at any of us, we always have love and hope. It is written upon our hearts . . . no rain can ever wash that away. Upon our hearts we draw an eye, heart, and ewe . . .