There is a giant chalkboard in our neighbourhood at the corner of 95 Street and 103A Avenue, right over a community garden that stands on what once was the House of Refuge Mission, which burned down about a year ago in a series of fires. The place used to minister to the homeless and still does. At the top of the chalkboard are the words, Before I Die. And under them, looking over the sunflowers in that place, the people of Boyle Street have written and rewritten what they want: To see the Chicago Bears play. To punch the lights out of $*#%@#! [name withheld]. To be myself. To live! are just a few of the sentiments I’ve witnessed there on my comings and goings in and out of the neighbourhood all summer long.
I came down with a violent chest cold on Sunday and have had to spend the last two days at home, in bed, not really being able to stir until now. I haven’t been this sick in years. It’s surreal, not following my routine as usual, not getting up, going out, going to work. Being still. Like stepping away from my world/the world for a moment and living without expectation. Being. Sick. And living with questions, I’m not sure I know the answers to.
Illness puts me in mind of all my frailties: physical, emotional, spiritual or otherwise. Life is full of small and large disappointments, setbacks, and discouragements. Challenges that leave us wondering: Can I do this? Can I overcome this? Is this really what I want to be doing with my life?
As I get myself ready to go back to the “real” world of work tomorrow, it seems to me that we all need a chalkboard beacon somewhere in our lives–silly, honest and wise–calling us back to the vision of what we’re meant to be here. I know I do.