When I look out my kitchen window, I can see a stop sign. I have resided in this house for over 40 years, so that sign is nothing new to me, but, for some blogging reason, it has taken on a new significance.
In our quest for personal holiness, and in trying to spread the word and love of God, we might think about the stop sign. First, it is the only octagonal traffic sign—eight equal sides with eight junctures in its composition. In Matthew 5:1-11, we read about how we can be blessed and holy when we live by the eight beatitudes Jesus proclaims in his Sermon on the Mount. At each of the junctures or chapters of our lives, we have the Lord there, holding us together with hopefulness.
Noticing that the stop sign is red, a color often connoting warning or caution, I am reminded that there are many temptations and deceptions along our path to holiness. Under the influence of familiarity or habit, it is easy to become lax and distracted, especially when unprecedented challenges arise.
As a driver comes to a stop sign, he usually slows down. We are not so used to slowing down. High-speed everything contradicts slowing down. It is still true, I believe, as the old adage says, that haste makes waste. I have seen from my window a number of accidents at that nearby corner, because drivers did not slow down or stop. To take time to cherish God in our lives, to nourish a healthy spirituality, we need to slow down and regularly stop to pray and assess our progress.
I noticed that the top of the stop sign is straight, and every side, is the same size. We have to try to keep a level head, a balance in our thinking, an even keel in our spiritual endeavors. Because the stop sign is different from most shapes that we see, it stands out.
The contrast of white letters against the red background also draws our attention. May we stand out in good ways as we exemplify our Christian virtues. We should take note of the little God-instances in our lives and be happy to share witness stories with friends and co-workers.
I noticed that the town recently made my neighborhood stop sign taller. With all the troubles in our world right now, we ourselves have to rise to great heights of generosity, prayerfulness and selflessness. That traffic sign is in position to promote safety and good traffic flow. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us to safely grow in self-discipline so God’s love may flow through us.
In the midst of all the closings and reopenings, political speeches and protests and riots, I suggest we stop and think. Let us reflect on what St. Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-20:
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,
making the most of the time because the days are evil.
So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery;
but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs among yourselves,
singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.