On the morning of Monday, March 30, I went for a run.
It was a pleasant 59 degrees in Richmond.
My plan was to have started the run earlier. It is now 7:20. I am easily distracted.
A few steps on Sweetbriar, then a left on Stuart Hall where it merges into Sweetbriar, and down the neighborhood’s favorite winter hill for sled riding. Cross the creek, a wrong left turn entry on to the front drive of Trinity UMC, left on Rock Creek, and then a right on Baldwin.
At Baldwin and Westham Parkway, I had a decision to make, stay on Westham, or crossover and get back on Baldwin. My brain said, make the crossover. It’s late, you will possibly encounter cars despite COVID-19.
I followed my brain’s reasoning even though this would mean a long, long chug up a long, long, long hill on Horsepen.
Spring was still sprouting. It was really sprouting pollen. That yellow green powder had coated everything.
Bursts of colors, splotched the landscape. Azaleas were starting to add to the palette. I don’t know why, but the purple blooms of the redbud trees always catch my attention.
Signs of COVID-19 are in the neighborhood. Silent parked cars sit in driveways and along curbsides—no morning commute or school drop off today.
Occasionally, I spot a teddy bear in a window. Part of giving children and their parents something to search for as walking has returned as an almost daily activity.
I see lots of sidewalk, driveway, and roadway chalk art.
This increased on Friday afternoon as teachers from Tuckahoe Elementary School rode through our streets. Those messages were heartfelt—the word love dominated—“we love our teachers.”
I always marveled at artwork from students in school buildings. That art at any level brings a building to life. But, in truth too, I marveled at the skills of the art teacher who could guide a student into creating something unique and lasting.
Horsepen hill is what it always is for me a challenge. My heavy legs don’t want to go forward. But, I keep moving. I could never be a mountain climber. I would expire before reaching the summit.
Finally, I come to my left turn that will meander me back to Westham. Next, I will crossover to Woodberry and make my way to a left on Hollins.
Hollins is split by a creek that kids in the neighborhood love to explore. Most of the time it is a trickle of water, but a downpour from summer thunderstorm can change that quickly.
Just as Hollins splits into two roadways, I notice among the chalk art the following words: Honk For Jesus.
I wonder what prompted that posting. Was it COVID-19 or some other personal need? As I continued to run, my brain reasoned Honk For Jesus was more of a reaction to COVID-19.
One of the best human beings that the good Lord ever created was Al Dudley. Al was a remarkable social studies teacher at Hermitage High School. Al was a friend to all. His heart was golden. So many times, he gave of himself to me and others.
I remember once talking with Al over the state of America, and Al said very simply: “America will need a religious revolution to right itself.”
I have no idea if Al was correct in his assessment.
But, it seems to me that at this stage in our history, and the data bears this out, our interest in attending church and checking in with Jesus on a regular basis are in a significant decline.
Will COVID-19 slow that slide, I’m not sure. But, I would wager that right now, there are lots of people in America and other parts of the world who are honking for Jesus. A pandemic causes that type of honking.
Perhaps, what I need to realize is this—Jesus has always been there quietly honking in my life. But here is the real question—when do I truly reach out to him? If I’m really, really honest, that reach out comes when I’m in crisis. Who knows, maybe it is that way for others too.
I am no expert on World War II, but there is something unique about the grit and determination of that generation. I think they really understood sacrifice. I’m not sure I do, and I’m not sure America does either.
But, I don’t think the World War II generation honked for Jesus. They didn’t need to, for the most part that grounding in Jesus was soundly in place.
Today, COVID-19 is grounding us.
What is this virus grounding us in?
Are fear, uncertainty, disbelief, instability, insecurity, worry, and anxiety, consuming our thoughts?
I’m not going to lie. Those unsettling words are rattling between my ears too.
But, I’m also working to counter those troublesome words. With some Jesus honking from Galatians 5:22-23: “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
And, I’m also holding on to the words from a t-shirt I saw on a gentleman at a restaurant in Beaufort, North Carolina in August 2019. Basically, the printed words on the t-shirt said this: “I’m a dealer in hope.”
A honk for Jesus is a honk for hope.