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Sidewalk writing

Philosophical differences at a chalk art event


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Darlene said the high school up the road was having an LGBT sidewalk art event on April 21 that was open to the community, and would I like to come. I said, … Um … OK. Darlene is not afraid of anything; she’s from Long Island.

I told my husband, and his response was that April 21 is our 10th wedding anniversary. That turned out to be true. Wishing merely to remind him of the surpassing importance of the kingdom of God, I blurted the first verse that sprang to mind, “Let the dead bury their own dead,” which my husband totally took the wrong way. But because he is a gracious man, in the end he agreed to postpone our celebration till the 22nd.

When the big day arrived (the chalk art festival), I found my grandchildren’s box of chunky multicolored chalk and went to meet Darlene. She had Bible verses stuffed in her pocket. It looked like rain, which I was ready to accept as a sign from God that we should go home and try for another time. Darlene’s view was that when chalk on sidewalks gets wet it becomes darker and richer.

Darlene was clearly not of my delicate constitution, to flinch at lightheartedness suddenly darkening into confrontation.

After strolling the $119 million campus, we spotted a stretch of the broad concrete apron where a man with a pink pony tail was unloading a van, and were sure we had found our objective. A woman was there directing three little girls. The girls were busy at work coloring in perfectly shaped rainbow-striped hearts and the word “PRIDE.” One of them, a limpid-eyed artist of about 7, looked up at me from her tableau and said with the unfeigned modesty of innocence, “Do you like my colors?” I said, “Yes,” and wanted to run away.

But instead I turned and said to the mother, “You must have drawn the outlines, they’re so straight.” She smiled in the affirmative, then introduced herself as the school librarian. Darlene, who is an extrovert, engaged the librarian in conversation about the new pollen garden and crab apple trees planned for the school yard. I was standing there listening but thinking this was already a disaster, like the time my son caught a crab at the Jersey shore, and on the way home to cook it made the mistake of naming it “Buddy.”

Darlene was clearly not of my delicate constitution, to flinch at the prospect of lightheartedness suddenly darkening into confrontation, for she then abruptly chirped, “Well, time to write!” and retrieved her scrap with the verses. Choosing the most prominent square possible, she got on her knees and began: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Her dutiful helper, I was coloring inside the lines, but we only made it to “The Lord is near to” before the librarian approached and said, “What are you doing?”

We were off and running.

It was at this point that came to light a slight philosophical difference between me and my fellow evangelist. I thought her chosen verse ambiguous, because it could be interpreted to mean that God is in league with the LGBT cause. I should explain that the school website’s promotion had claimed “gender-different children” were being bullied; this is what Darlene thought to address with her chosen Scripture. Moot argument now. The librarian was pleading with rising crescendo that we go away, while Darlene and yours truly were emptying our gunnysack of reasons why the gay and trans agenda is destroying children.

Meanwhile my own internal dialogue was telling me we’re accomplishing nothing.

Further up the sidewalk a pastor inscribed a verse, which I decided to copy on another square: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Jesus.” When I was done, a little girl standing by broke from her pack, drew near with poise, looked sweetly into my eyes, and said, “I think what you wrote is nice.”

And the rain held back.


Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her columns have been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides near Philadelphia.

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