.— From the Fool —
I was telling my sister how I got into a traffic jam on the freeway. “I didn’t know they let Fools drive,” she said. I guess she hadn’t been out there lately.
It was only a little after 3 pm, but it seems like people take off work early these days, or maybe they all got laid off and just drive around for the hell of it. Anyway, it was like the buffalo before Buffalo Bill got busy, but I don’t know if the buffalo got all jammed up and just sat there.
Some people honked, and others honked back at the honkers. Some people got out of their cars and looked ahead and got back in. There wasn’t much you could do if you didn’t have a gun. I guess nobody had a gun.
But I was thinking, this could be the tipping point. A tipping point is where things tip, and right now we could use some tipping. It’s not so easy to tip an elephant.
What if we all got out of our cars, two miles up and down the freeway, and showed each other snapshots of our kids. I don’t have any kids, but I carry a nice shot of my sister when she got out of jail. We could tell stories. And if there was a traveling jug band in a school bus painted green, they could play. Let all the little kids out of their car seats, and they run around, and a truck driver lets them get up in the truck and sit behind the wheel, and they always remember that. And we all dance, even the trucker and the old lady with the walker. And then someone comes around with the loaves and fishes.
After a while, people have to go where they need to go, so they get in their cars and trucks and take off. But we’re all into the rhythm, and we start up and move at exactly the same time, five miles an hour, then ten, then sixty, waving goodbye and feeling a whole lot better.
I guess it’ll have to wait till the next traffic jam.
— From CB —
On our tour, we recently lodged with a couple who’ve spent much time in Africa. I was struck by a carved hardwood Nativity scene on their mantel. Faces with African features, of course, and a pair of elephants standing beside the sheep. We too have a crêche over our fireplace, a Mexican ceramic group in clothing, I think, of the Mayan Yucatan. Both move me deeply.
Why? I’m not Christian — I describe myself loosely as a Dionysiac Quaker — and for me the wee bundle center-stage is no virgin-born god. He’s just a baby. For me, that’s what makes the scene so powerful.
A mother, a carpenter, animals, peasants, magi, all standing awestruck at the childbirth. The bringing-forth of the future — blessing, pain, hope, despair, the possibility of this infant’s nerves and sinews evolving into a worker of miracles.
Shall we only gather around a baby and see its beauty if it’s the card-carrying Messiah? Is there possibility of any child, all children, to become the blessings & saviors of humankind? Is not every newborn formed in the image of a God who embodies all we aspire to?
Imagine a hospital nursery where each new child is surrounded by shepherds, kings, parents, cousins, donkeys staring with wonder into its opening eyes. That might even avert the million daily crucifixions.
— From EF —
Indiana. I grew up here, or more precisely, served time here until I started down the long, long road of growing up. Rolling westward on the Indiana Toll Road, I see the fields of corn, dry, still standing, and remember the rustling sounds, the aroma, and the experience of being completely hidden. When I was small, it was exciting to have a cloak of invisibility. I look alongside the road, hoping to see what had been my favorite part of this season, the fluffy white of the milkweed pods. Yes, there are still a few.
The woods along this hectic highway are the same ones I remember alongside our country dirt road — slender and graceful, half their leaves in a crunchy blanket on the ground. My little-girl playground, where I could pile up leaves and then burrow into the middle and hide.
Houses and barns are still few and far between. I was a free-range kid a lot of the time and could hike freely across fields and through the thickets, even walking the rails of the train tracks whose coal-burning locomotives would sometimes start grass fires.
The toll road didn’t exist yet, but in the middle of Jackson Township, Porter County, there was the oddity of the Ribbon Road, and I never got any explanation for that one. It was a tiny concrete road, straight as a string and only one lane wide, and I didn’t have the foggiest idea where it went, but I loved that it was there.
We are all the sum of our own stories, and I’d like to make a conscious effort to edit my own anthology. Instead of dwelling on the dissociation and pain that filled my childhood house, I should run out the back door into all that sweetness and remember what I loved.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2015
Conrad.. One of your best pieces for me. A very original thought regarding the birth of every child. You described your observations with such love and sensibility. It is one I plan to keep in my journal. You and Elizabeth might be happy to know……We are having a pluvial day!!! with more forecasted for weekend and beyond. Nina