Today was the first middle finger. The gesture seemed to take up the entire windshield of the small sedan. There was no mistaking it–held up in a prolonged rather than flashing fashion. There was some relief…I knew this was coming…it was only a matter of time before being flicked off. And yet, it still registered with surprise.
It was a wet and formerly snowy day in the corner. It was gray. I had a dark umbrella. From time to time in my short window this afternoon, I wiped off the drops of water that weighed my sagging pink balloon down. It flew up under the umbrella at times in my face.
I felt like part of the Magritte big apple on the face painting, “The Son of Man.” About the famous painting, artist Rene Magritte remarked,
“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”
“What are you doing?” some more folks today wanted to know, rolling down their windows to ask questions. Who is the person behind the balloon? What is it that I am not seeing about this woman? What is hidden behind this visible act of smiling and waving on the corner? What is the motive? One man slowly driving by shared, “I’ve been curious. Seen you out here before. What’s it about?”
And I wonder about intense feelings juxtaposed–all the many joyful waves that come back (especially on sunny days) in contrast to the visible gesture of that middle finger obscuring the man’s face today. What pain resides there? What is the story behind the story? What is bobbing between “the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present?” For him, for me?
I know this: in a couple days’ absence from the block, I notice a difference. I miss the expansiveness and room that waving on the corner opens in my mind and heart. I miss the prayerfulnes that flows even in the miserable weather. Just as some may wish to know this balloon lady, I wish to know others, to see them as they are in those moments. Great detail isn’t possibly in the flashing passing, but I see humanity. And each gesture back communicates the joys and pains of what it means always to be seen and unseen by others, visible and invisible–as each of us are in all of our thoughts and gestures.
And I leave today with the image of a yellow car with dozens of hearts spray-painted on it that rolled up as my time winded down. And before the occupants even waved or rolled down their windows to talk I knew what the visible meant, “These folks get it. No one drives a car with hearts all over it and fails to recognize joy.”
Pastor | Kittamaqundi Community Church | Columbia, Maryland