Every morning on my way to work, thoughts just keep jumping into my head and I keep meaning to jot some of the ideas down, so I’m finally getting around to it. Each day, I pass by an elementary school, so I get to see the kids being dropped off by their parents and the crossing guards in action.
When I was a young child, even before I started going to school myself, I would walk with my mom and my brother as he was off to Kindergarten. At the end of our street as it joined the main thoroughfare through town, was our crossing guard. She had a webbed beach chair to sit in when there wasn’t anyone to assist in crossing the street, although I never actually saw her sit in the chair, and her VW bug was parked on the street nearby. Every time we passed, my mom would chat with the crossing guard for a few minutes, and she always had a smile for all of the children and a few nice words. She knew all of us that made our way down the busy street two blocks to the school.
Soon we stopped walking my brother to school, and I longed for the day when I could walk by myself and let the crossing guard help me cross the street. In my young innocence, I could think of no better job to have than that of a crossing guard. She took her job very seriously and always ensured that everyone was safe. To this day, I still believe that I had one of the best crossing guards of all time. Her sign was always held high as she marched into the middle of the street, and her palm flat as her arm outstretched toward the oncoming traffic. She’d blow her whistle shrilly so that everyone knew that it was time to stop (there were no flashing lights or stop lights at that time).
Finally, it was my turn to walk on my own to school. Now, understand, I didn’t actually have to cross the boulevard, only the small inlet to my own street. For the first few weeks, the crossing guard helped me cross, but then she told me that the following week I would have to start crossing on my own, because her job was to cross the children from the other side of the boulevard. I still vividly remember that first morning when I had to cross the street on my own, not sure when it would be ok to step off the curb and cross the street. Would a car come zooming around the corner, catching me off guard? And then I realized. . .even though she was making me take the steps on my own, and take responsibility for how I made my way across the street, my crossing guard was still watching me.
As those memories flitted across my mind during my commute this morning, it dawned on me that crossing guards are a metaphor for me. They symbolize someone who watches over you to make sure that your way is clear. Crossing guards ensure that all obstacles and danger are cleared from your path before you take that leap of faith across the great divide. Don’t we all want a crossing guard as we go into the unknown future to remove any barriers from our way and to keep us safe from outside menaces?
Like that little girl I was so many years ago, I still stand on the brink sometimes wondering whether I will make it safely across the divide of whatever endeavor I am undertaking. I have to trust that I am up for the responsibility. . .and maybe have a little faith that someone is watching out for me.
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