“Try your best to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.” – Fred Rogers
There is a special child-like quality to the standing on the street with the balloon. As I have described it to my children, they are not incredulous. Getting the heart and mind to go out to Little Patuxent is a matter of overcoming my own fears and sense of limitation. When I said what I was doing may not make much sense, my child simply asked, “why does it not make sense?”
Today I realized that it will be a particular gift when I can wave at children. It’s not always easy to see them in the backseat. Several older kids were sitting in front seats today and waved with big smiles. Just when I found myself stalling, their smiles energized me.
As I waved this afternoon, I gave thanks for Mr. Rogers. I considered how many of those driving by have been uplifted because of his work and the intentionality of what has rippled outward thanks to his efforts. And I give thanks for the efforts of those like John Milton (see “Foolish Year” tab for more info), who spent seventeen years waving at people from an intersection in my hometown of Memphis, TN.
At the close of my time around 4:30 p.m., a beautiful image of the evening was there in the sky– pinks and yellows of the setting sun going down over by Wilde Lake. Geese waved at me across the sky.
Then, I came home and my children fought over my blue balloon. My protests about the joy it intended to bring went unheard at home today! I’ve got my work cut out for me making goodness attractive!
Praying that the peace that was a part of my waving also finds its way home tonight. Thank you, Columbia and my neighbors, for day two.
I nearly didn’t make it out. On my way to the Vantage Point Road in another area of Columbia, I saw a man waving with a sign that read: “Jesus.” I immediately felt my questions and judgment: “What is his motive?” And this coming from me, a pastor! This was just the kind of thing I was about to get into. And just the kind of judgment that would be floating to me in each moment. Standing on the corner holding a balloon? Holy foolishness. Sharing a message with random passersby. A waste of time.
And yet, there I stood today. After my long resistance (see the “Foolish Year” tab for background), it was time to lean into this call. And yet, I’ve known that it will transform me. I have already felt the stretching, the elasticity of this spiritual practice of standing and waving with a simple balloon. It is about joy.
I managed to blow up my little yellow balloon, don my new pink hat with fuzzball, and find a solid spot to stand. The morning window from 9:30-10:00 a.m. was colder than expected. And I just came back from the snowy Midwest yesterday! I kept my fingers waving to keep warm and immediately felt thrills of joy as I waved and folks began to wave back. I kept the buoyont balloon in mind as it bobbed. I felt a lightheartedness of spirit, even when faced with muscle aches in my arm and some looks of annoyance. All moves so quickly. The smiles of those who genuinely welcomed the waves and those who gave a toot of the horn spurred me on. When asked by a walker why I was doing what I was doing: “Give a bit of joy, receive a bit of joy.”
In my afternoon window, 3:40-4:30 p.m., the traffic had picked up. The sun was out and people seemed curious. One man parked and came out to film a bit for his youtube channel. I told him this was my first day, but that I had hoped for a year of such standing. “We’ll see!” I offered with some uncertainty–all as I continued to wave. I saw at least one church member pass.
Friends, some people looked so elated. As I reflect on it now, I feel so full. Thank you to each soul who waved back. Let’s continue to invite joy to expand, to bob, to flow at Vantage Point Road. For the remainder of the day there was more room in my spirit than normal, more patience for my kids, more light in my heart at Advent.
The film student had asked me: “Do you plan to wave anywhere else?”
“No,” I replied. “This is my home base. I’ve been called to this spot between my church over there and my home in that direction. These are the people that pass in my neighborhood. This is the place where I am called to be.”
All these folks are my neighbors, no matter where they coming from, or where they are going. This is community. A spirit of joy waves with us.