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The Writing on The Wall

19 Aug

Although much of graffiti is tasteless and nasty, there are some clean, clever graffiti scrawls:

  • On a Beware of the Dog sign … the words were added, “He is very sarcastic.”
  • On a sign for a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, the word “Cheeseburger” is covered over by the word “Bypass.”
  • On a blank billboard, freshly painted for a new sign, someone wrote the words, “The joy of not being sold anything.”
  • And my favorite … on a sign for a graffiti removal service hotline, someone drew a stick-figure man with a bucket of blue paint and paintbrush … and the little man painted over the ad’s phone number!

Last week, I wrote about facing death and dying… but hopefully, we’ll have some time before we have to deal with that. This post is about dealing with the now.

In a twist on graffiti, for two months in April the citizens in New Orleans were invited to write their “bucket list”-type thoughts on walls at two locations on the opposite sides of the city. The walls ~ painted in chalkboard black over a formerly graffiti-marked structure ~ had an attached receptacle filled with chalk, and passersby were encouraged to fill in the blank after the words, “Before I die I want to …”

New Orleans artist Candy Chang first created the “Before I die” project in 2011 on the side of an abandoned house. Much of the neighborhood was still a wreck after Hurricane Katrina. She felt the project would help ease the city’s pain and give a voice to the community. “The wall,” Chang said, “becomes an enlightened way to get to know your neighbors and discover what matters most to the people around you.” It became a cross-section of citizens’ thoughts and dreams.

The Savannah project team said there was only one requirement. The scrawlings must “Be profound, Not profane.” Many expressions do include the profound: Before I die I want to … “discover who I am” … “love someone” …  “make a difference” … “save a life” … “make the world a better place” … “be someone’s cavalry” … “abandon all insecurities.”

But others are more lighthearted or reflect personal goals:  Before I die I want to … “swim without holding my nose” … “complete my PhD” …  “be published” … “live with the Amish” … “learn French” … “own a monkey” … “sing for millions” … “straddle the International Date Line.”

Some writers tagged off of others’ comments. One that made me laugh was this chalkboard post:  Before I die I want to “marry someone else who wrote on this wall.” Off to the side, in bright pink chalk were the words, “Me, too!”

Another scribe wrote, Before I die I want to “understand.” Below it, a writer said, Before I die I want to “be OK with NOT understanding.”

Wall spin-offs have shown up throughout the US, Mexico, Canada, Portugal, Holland, England, South Africa, and even in Kazakhstan. A wall in Lebanon changed the concept up a bit, asking people to fill in this blank: Lebanon would be better if ….

We might consider that, too:  America would be better if …. Then we can consider whether there’s something we can do to make it better instead of depending so much on the government!

[I know this is off-topic, but I couldn’t help thinking of some writing on a wall (words of judgment) that changed the course of an entire nation (Daniel 5:1-31). I wondered what God might write on a wall concerning America … or our churches. But most of all, I wondered what He might write on a wall concerning my own life.]

But back to those chalkboard walls … how would I finish that sentence: Before I die I want to…” The Bible says, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18) ~ and this is talking about a revelation from God, a word from the Lord.  I want my answers to reflect God’s truth and biblical wisdom for myself, my family, my church, and my nation.

So many people have bucket lists today. Some bucket lists have huge, grandiose dreams like visiting the Great Wall of China or standing atop the Eiffel Tower or having lunch with a favorite sports hero. A friend of mine, Laura, has simple, attainable items on her bucket list (like having lunch with a certain couple at church) … and that’s a good way to go, because the more accumulated goals we reach, the more potential for celebration we achieve!

Come up with sports you want to try or something in nature you want to do or see; a language you want to learn or subject you want to master; an instrument you want to learn or something challenging to try related to music; an animal you want to adopt; a book you want to read; a monument or museum you want to visit; a hobby you want to learn;  a mission you want to accomplish; a project you want to fund … the possibilities are endless! You are still alive and life is an adventure ~ fill your bucket list and see how many you can accomplish!

How about you? What would you write on that chalkboard wall? Is there anything you can do ~ choices you can make ~ to get closer to achieving that goal?

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