But nobody seemed to really pay attention to anything there.
So it became a canvas, even as the whole bookstore was and is a canvas, really. A fresh page on which to scribble and scrabble. A collage of mementos. A St. Christopher necklace someone used to pay for candy. A “Get Out of Hell Free” card someone thought might come in handy for me (imagine). A “my name is GEEK” button. Someone had the gall to think that would fit. Pictures of friends who have died. Snapshots of small groups gathered, faces beaming. A mock-up bumper sticker reading “God Loves Grumpy Pharisees.”
People always asked where they could buy one of those.
So I stand before it. Before eight years. My own gradually accumulated work of art.
And now it’s time to go.
My tenure in the store is up.
I shed it like an old skin and make room for the next. Doctor regeneration. I don’t want to go.
Then, with great vigor, I pull out every staple, every tack. With alarming joy and anticipation I remove every last piece of the past, the memories, the words, the faces, all of it, a layer of fresh snow now melted and absorbed into my very soul while every outward sign of that eight year accumulated layer is removed.
And then I stand before a blank corkboard canvas.
A fresh page.
Like my life.
That evening I sit down with one of my latest, lingering reads – The Book Thief by Zusak.
My eyes fall upon this scene:
In one of their basement sessions, Papa dispensed with the sandpaper and pulled out a brush. There were few luxuries in the Hubermann household, but there was an oversupply of paint, and it became more useful for Leisel’s learning. Papa would say a word and the girl would have to spell it aloud and then paint it on the wall, as long as she got it right. After a month, the wall was recoated.
A fresh cement page.
God is so faithful to give us words.
And he will even use a Zusak to do it.
It filled me with a holy, devouring joy to paint it all over.
No more sorrow on this palette.
No mooning over past pages.
“Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.”
What a marvelous blank corkboard canvas.
What a joy to be emptied right out of this place.
Recoat it all.
Give it all a fresh face.
Nose, cheeks, eyes, ears, hair! Still not ginger, but that’s okay…
Make my life a fresh fleshy page.