Of stoplights and crosswalks

There are three things in life I abhor. I’m repulsed by mixed vegetables, particularly the mixes with the lima beans, peas, beans, corn and those little cubed carrots. They may look pretty, but to my palate they just don’t belong together.

I can’t stand it when one of my guitar strings breaks, especially when I’m mid-song, waxing eloquently and beatifically.

But what really irks me are red stop lights, especially those out of sync and in cahoots with each other. I love green lights. I have mixed feelings about yellow lights. They’re a tad shifty.

In the vicinity of our church on Main Street are lights, signs and structures that bespeak of rapid movement.  The bridge north of Gerrard traverses the tracks of VIA and GO trains. The traffic lights at Main and Danforth help facilitate the progress of pedestrians, cars, bikes, buses, streetcars, strollers and scooters, while the subway rumbles and shakes the earth beneath. Above these are wires and dishes transmitting and receiving signals under planes flying from and into the island airport. Among all the audible and visible signs of the harried traffic of which I’m often a part, I was recently reacquainted with and yielded to some familiar flashing yellow lights just outside our door.

Looking beyond the front doors of our church building, there is a walkway leading to a ‘crosswalk’. Beyond the doors looking in is a walkway leading to a ‘table under a cross’. Whether you look east or west on the threshold of our open doors, one is aware of the import and significance of human interchanges and sharing.

I have often witnessed something invaluable unfolding under the flashing yellow lights of the crosswalk in front of Calvary Baptist Church. What I have seen and heard helps me appreciate the innumerable daily opportunities we have to receive a blessing and be a blessing when our paths cross. Those who approach the crosswalk come from different directions, in vehicles and on foot, with a host of tasks and destinations in mind. Some move leisurely, while others are travelling with some urgency.

Yet whatever their mode or agenda they look out for each other and come together under the flashing lights cautiously, thoughtfully and with care. Then some neat things happen. People exchange glances, smiles and nods, greetings, waves of acknowledgement and gestures of thanks. For a brief moment, simple but meaningful exchanges are afforded to those who welcome the pause and recognize that they are part of a community of different kinds of folks of immeasurable worth and deserving of equal care and respect.

Our culture has a penchant for speed and manic activity. Look at ourselves — heads down, full steam ahead, distracted by personal agendas, sustained by wireless handheld devices and bodies wired on energy drinks. Ironically we miss the unwrapped gifts and free surprises that can truly energize us — those life-giving serendipitous points of human warmth, care and contact.

As I write these words, I am cognisant of my being on one side of Easter and know that you are reading these words on the other side of Easter. A day, a point in time between us was marked by a cross, a symbol of sacrificial love and other-centredness. Your pausing to listen has been a blessing to me. It afforded me the opportunity to stop too and think about us, people sharing the boardwalk, sidewalks, ravine paths and roads of the Beach community. It helped me know how glad and grateful I am to have any vegetables at all. Now I can better appreciate the quiet respite, the gift of silence others can revel in while I replace my broken guitar string. And if I hadn’t stopped, I might have missed you. I hope I can be a blessing to you when our paths ‘cross’ again.


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