I've just started reading a book that I've had on my bookshelf for a long time. An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter is a trip down memory lane from his rural boyhood in Georgia. And today, I ran across a scenario that I fell in love with. Let me set up the scene for you: This story is about tramps who would happen along the dirt roads while Jimmy was growing up. The tramps would make stops for food or help at various home along the road.
"When Mama was home we never turned away anyone who came to our back door asking for food or a drink of water....One day the lady from the next farm came to visit, and Mama commented on how many tramps she had helped that week. Mrs. Bacon said, "Well, I'm thankful that they never come in my yard." The next time we had some of the vagrant visitors, Mama asked why they had stopped at our house and not the others. After some hesitation, one of them said, "Ma'am, we have a set of symbols that we use, to show the attitude of each family along the road. the post on your mailbox is marked to say that you don't turn people away or mistreat us." After they were gone, we went out and found some unobtrusive scratches; Mama told us not to change them." -- Jimmy Carter, An Hour Before Daylight
So, I've been considering today who it is that comes to my back door. Not literally, but figuratively. Are there "symbols" on my mailbox that indicate that people are safe to ask me for help? Do I welcome those that struggle? Those who may need a hand up. Being the philosophical soul that I can lapse into from time to time, it's a perfect time of year to be introspective and ask these questions that deserve an answer. Do I turn people away or mistreat them? I'm afraid that the answer hasn't always been as positive as I'd like it to be. But the road of life still runs in front of my house. I hope that the next person who shows up at my back door will receive the help that they need.