The Box and the Bookmarks

2 Jul

I’m flying home from Florida, after a weekend spent talking with a charming man named Joe and his sweet wife Audrey, regarding a book we’re working on together (details soon, I promise).

Across the aisle from me in the plane’s overhead bin, is a large cardboard box filled with folders of notes, letters, and newspaper clippings that Joe entrusted to me. I can’t see it while we’re in flight, but there’s a small strip of tape peeking out from the base of the bin, and I know that’s the box. It is the only evidence I have that I’m not dreaming. I steal occasional glances to make sure it’s really there, and each time my heart skips—is this joy or fear? Perhaps a bit of both.

For some reason, I keep thinking of a day from my childhood when my mother purchased 5-cent bookmarks for me and my siblings (there were seven of us at the time). Each had a different saying and I smiled at their cleverness, as well as how aptly Mom matched them to our personalities. Impish Christopher’s said, “Smile and the whole world will wonder what you’re up to.” Steven, who was a bit on the contemplative side, received one that said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” And even little Josephine had a sweet one that said “If the world gives you lemons, make lemonade.” (This was the 70s, before the phrase became trite.)

So, when she held one out to me I was eager to see how my persona had been captured in a corny maxim. It would no doubt highlight my sense of humor, or incredible imagination. Sadly, I was to be disappointed. Mine was the worst. It made no sense and wasn’t one bit amusing. It said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” What rubbish! What was she trying to say about me? I snatched it up and disappeared into my room. I’m sure I threw it away, but I never forgot the incident, and those words clattered around in my brain for years.

It makes me giggle to think that now, 35 years later, this has become my mantra. My pastor got me thinking a few weeks ago about asking God each morning what He has in store for me, so I’ve tried to put it into practice. I wake up, thank the Lord for a new day, and ask, “So God, what are we going to do on this, the first day of the rest of my life?”

Box of folders

Where do we start, and where will it take us?

Regrettably, I usually don’t hang around long enough for an answer, which is why I’m often adrift and without purpose. But today, I know without a doubt what we’re going to do. And tomorrow, and just about every day after that for the next few months. We’re going to empty that box. We’re going to read, and learn, and type. We’re going to open doors, capture emotions, and light a fire in the darkness. We’re going to write! Oh, Mom, I wish you were still here so I could thank you. How did you know? Mine was the best bookmark of all!

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