An orange cone, or a “pylon” as my son Zach would call it. It sits alone amongst the rocks, down by the lake.
It stands out in stark contrast against the grey and clay colored stones, and I find myself curious as to what is happening right there?
An orange cone, means caution, or don’t come near here, and it draws ones’ attention to it.
I’m more than a little purplexed as to what its’ purpose is?
When Zach was a very young boy, he loved these bright orange cones, and we purchased some for him from the toy store.
He was about 6-8 at the time, and he was thrilled. They were a miniature version of the kind we see on construction sites.
He would set these up when he was playing street hockey on the driveway. They were perfect for marking off the goal area. Zach would use them for marking off areas he wanted to protect, as if to give the direct message, this is my space, you better watch yourself!
It was so intriguing to me how much joy and fun these little plastic triangles brought to him.
One day he was out playing with some of his neighborhood buddies, and a much larger “industrial sized cone” appeared on the driveway.
His Dad acting surprised, and curious, asked Zach where this new big cone had come from.
Zach replied, not entirely meeting his Dad’s gaze, “well the worker man just gave it to me.” “Oh really, ” his Dad replied. “Uh yep…” Zach responded wanting to sound sure of himself.
Instinctively being the Dad, and seeing his sons’ rather shifty gaze, he did not think he was getting the truth of the situation.
“Are you telling me the truth about this Zach, and did the workman really just give it to you?” He asked, while maintaining eye contact with Zach.
Recalling this event, makes me squirm, and want to look down at my toes right away.
Zach knew I think , that his Dad was aware that this beautiful orange object of his desire had not just been given to him.
However he was committed . He had allready answered his Dad’s question, and somehow he became committed to this lie.
He had seen this cone, it was so beautiful and bright. It was actually by a neighbor’s house. It was beckoning him to just come and get it. After all, it was just sitting there all alone. It wasn’t really doing anything, and nobody was around, so what was it hurting? Nobody would know…..
And so….he took it, because it was just there…for the taking after all. The people probably had more …they wouldn’t miss it, and oh my..but he wanted it so badly, his arms practically ached with the wanting to grab it and run.
He had only “pretend” ones, but this one was “for real.” It was big, and when he carried it back home, it was bigger, and more cumbersome than he imagined.
It was such a prize, and he was so excited about his “find.”
But now….as his Dad questioned him, he became uncomfortable, and he felt mad, and he wanted to protect his beloved cone.
His Dad inquired gently at first, but then also directly and seriously, as to whether he was telling a lie?
Zach knew that he wasn’t supposed to tell those, and he felt uncomfortable, and possibly a tad trapped.
If I’m recalling this event correctly, I think tears began to roll down a young boys’ cheeks, and a Father who was trying to keep a stern face realized that his young sons’ heart was breaking with the guilt of his choice.
Words were exchanged, and a boys’ tortured conscience exposed the truth that he just wanted the beautiful cone so much. A lesson was taught about the importance of telling the truth, and why lies are hurtful.
The Dad took his son , who walked meekly beside him, and together they returned the cone to the neighbor. Zach apologized to our kind neighbor, and all was forgiven.
Tears were wiped away, and blue eyes were once again cleared from guilt.
A big grateful hug was felt, and the young boy was relieved.
There was redemption. The boy was forgiven by his Father, and even though he still very much wanted the bigger and more important looking object of his desire, he knew it was not his to have.
He learned an important lesson that day.
My heart smiles as I recall my dear son, and how I enjoyed his spirit, and the way he became so fixated on not so ordinary things to play with.
He often played on his own for hours, finding weeds, rocks, sticks, and dirt, and would be in his own little world, and enjoying every second of it, and the more insignificant an object looked, the better he liked it.
He was always a creative, full of wonder, child.
He is now a man who asks questions, is keen to learn, hates injustice, has a determined sense of responsibility , and writes brilliantly. He is fiercely loyal, and loves absolutely.
He may not agree with how I’ve described him, but hopefully will forgive me for exposing the truth about his heart that I so ,love.
Under construction seems to be a thing going on right now. Doesn’t life seem to be a series of setting up orange cones? We should be warning others that our lives feel too cautionary to be existing in?
Maybe I’mjust speaking for myself, but somehow I don’t think so….
There doesn’t seem to be enough to hide behind some days, and other days we want to take a big monster truck, and drive over our cones, and potentially leave a wake of orange plastic in our tortured path.
Old tires are thrown away, and cast off, and even the leaves on the trees begin to turn a golden yellow, or a fiery red, and get ready to let go, and stand naked against the cold winter winds.
It is a season of change, and we feel how the mornings are chillier, and the evenings turn darker sooner, and let’s not forget the wasps snd house flies that seem to be everywhere.
Little children go back to school, and some of our teens start their first year of college. Parents are left with whiplash as to where the time has gone. It was the same for generations before us, and those that will come after. Autumn seems to be the season for letting go.
I’m reminded of a Mother carrying a baby to term. There are so many months spent preparing, and the belly blossoms with new life. So many hopes and expectations are dreamed about, and there is such anticipation in the womb.
We don’t know what comes next, but very often you hear expectant parents declare with great affirmation, ” I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, just as long as it’s healthy!”
But what if?……..what if it’s not? What then? Generally we cocoon our thoughts deep inside, and hide away that fear from the world, because often it’s far too terrifying to contemplate birthing an unhealthy child.
Reality…it happens…. It happened to me, and to us. It was terrifying, and maddening, and frightening, and hideously disappointing. That is the initial thought.
Somewhere along the way, the wonder of the new creation lights up like a new candle in your heart. This is different, this was not expected, this is really really, out of this world hard, and many many times, you feel as if you are not nearly enough, and you break.
If one is fortunate enough to have loving friends, and family around you, then you have support, you have help to carry this load. These warriors dressed as our loved ones set up orange cones around your family, so that people know….Proceed with caution.
There is something, or someone broken here. There is muck, there are tears, there is sorrow, there is torn up cement, and cast aside tires, there is algae on this lake, and sometimes yes….the fish are stinking.
But…and here’s the big but…..there is redemption…it creeps up upon you, and before you know it, your breaking heart is wrapped with misshapen band aids, and gauze, and a sling with all the names of those you love, carries your heart into a new place that it had never known before.
Would you have chosen this ……perhaps not…and that is truth.
But this life, this person upended your lives in the most chaotic way, and forced you to put on a different set of glasses, and your armor became bent, and some of the metal burned away, and what was left was a child that you adored with every fiber of your being.
The cones still come out, they still warn the passers by, to be careful, but after all, they are only made of plastic, and they can be moved, because all of us are under construction, and we all yearn to become something new and beautiful…..and it happens…..and then…the miracle….