A black-framed poster hangs in my sister Beverly’s home. In bold letters, it reads, “one kind word can change someone’s entire day” At the poster’s centre sits a picture of an antique typewriter.
I noticed the art immediately during a recent week-long visit. But only on the morning the Preacher and I packed to leave, did I notice the small type on the paper in the machine.
Curious to see which words had been chosen to reinforce the poster’s message, I leaned in close to read. I expected a phrase like “I believe in you.” Or, “I think you’re amazing.” Or “Don’t give up. God will make a way.” Perhaps, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Instead, I read this: The revolution will not be mono-spaced.”
I laughed so hard at the surprising lack of congruity between the poster’s bold message and the typewriter’s small print that I had to hold onto something to stay upright. My hoots reached Beverly, in her room at the other end of the hall. “WHAT are you finding so funny this morning?” she asked.
“You know this poster with the typewriter on it?” I yelled. “Have you ever read the words typed on its page?”
“I forget,” she hollered back, so I read them to her – and now both of us hooted like hyenas.
A few minutes later we stood with our husbands on her front porch saying good-bye. And thank you for everything, we love you, we’ll miss you and it’s your turn to visit next…
We live a thousand miles apart, Bev and I. Phones, emails and texts help, but nothing can replace sharing a cup of something hot each morning, painting a picture together, or giving our elderly father the pleasure of a visit with two daughters at once.
Suddenly I felt the distance keenly. I would miss many things, especially our leisurely morning conversations over coffee as we observed the neighbours hurrying children off to school or flinging their briefcases into their cars and roaring away.
She hates our good-byes too. It showed on her face.
I put my hand on her arm. “Beverly,” I said, “I have kind words for you.” She looked at me curiously. I inhaled, hoping to remember those words. Then, as soberly as I could manage, I repeated, “The revolution will not be mono-spaced.”
Her face registered shock, then she roared, setting us both off again.
I have known plenty of people, bold and outspoken in their faith, blessing and encouraging others. But every so often, when I’ve leaned in close, read the small print emerging from the typewriter of their lives, I’ve found something different. A message so startlingly inconsistent it would be laughable – if only it didn’t matter so much. Worst of all – sometimes I’m one of those people.
Lord, help me get my small print right. For you. For me. But especially for those who lean close.