Friday, October 07, 2005

White Board Cautionary Tales

The white board serves a very important purpose at many churches. It offers a place to write joys and concerns. Ours is on the wall of our main hallway and everyone who enters the building can’t go far without passing right by it. Our board houses the latest death and destruction cases and then the new babes. It feels like an extreme collection. Good and bad with nothing in the middle.

That’s why I decided to get my own office door “joy” board, so we could create a balance and add things like good grades, contest winning, promotions and other stuff that mortars between the birth and death biz of life.

I had a bit of a shock this morning when I came in and found my joy board had gone missing. I immediately sent out a staff wide email screaming, WHERE IS MY JOY BOARD? One answer came back from a staff member who hadn’t a clue what in the world I was whining about. His reply made me laugh out loud. Something like, “I don't know; I'm looking for mine, too. Some days they're hard to find.”

I later found it had been hiding in the staff kitchen. I figured since the white board parent had been overflowing with death and destruction, my little joy board had become overwhelmed and had gone for a joy ride, only to find himself without the means to flee the building. From the looks of it, he had managed to pull himself off of the adhesive tape pads that held him to the door, but after that. ...Well. I’m sorry he couldn’t get away from the stress, but I was glad to have him back. As soon as we got him back on the door, a fellow staffer wrote a timely joy on him and I thought he looked brighter and a bit more relaxed than before. Whew. If there’s one thing you don’t want to lose, in this crazy world, it’s any little bit of joy, whether it is on a board or in the smile of a friendly face.

Our board has been flooded with news. It is clear that vacation is over, pal.O-ver. Just when I thought we couldn’t possibly fit another announcement on the hallway white board, we got another - Rest in Peace call. I stood in the hallway, looking at the crowded board and decided to erase one listing, make it smaller and then squeeze the new one into the crunch. Knowing how likely it was for such a simple task to be anything but- I called the reliable retired receptionist volunteer to be my witness in the erasure.

Erasing can be dangerous. My experience is that the act of erasing can sometimes also erase one’s personal brain cells. Statistics show that in some cases as many as 4- 6 million cells can be wiped away in one clean board swipe. I thought I had protected myself by having a friendly witness.
“Okay, Ruby, I’m going to take out J.R. Rothenstein. Okay? Help me remember that. Rothenstein. J.R. “
“Rothenstein? Okay.”
I gripped the soft flannel block and touched the board. A cool chill ran up my arm, but I stood firm. “ J. R. Rothenstein”
Taking a deep breath, I slowly drove the bulldozing erasure over the words. “J.R. Rothenstein.”
As soon as the open space appeared, I wrote in a smaller print. “J.R. Rothenstein.”

Whew. Done. I backed away from the board and stood, arms folded across my chest, next to my friend, the receptionist.
“Well, you did it. Good work.”

Then it hit me. I looked carefully at the miniature words I had worked so hard to apply. My mind went blank. Something was missing.
I looked closer. Closed my eyes tight, trying to concentrate. “Uh, Ruby? Do you remember what was going ON with J.R. Rothenstein?” she looked blankly at me. “ Um, no, not really. I’d better get back to the phones now.”
Deserted by my own volunteer. How rude. I called after her. “ I don’t think it was a baby. Or a hospital. I think it was a death. Maybe his father.” I wrote "father died" up by his name. Then I called a staff member on speaker phone.
“Do you recall JR on the board?”
“Do you remember what happened to him?”
“ I think his mother died.”
I ran out and switched the father to mother.
A few minutes later, she emailed me the latest prayer request and there it was plain as day. J.R. father deceased.
So I changed it back.
Please, friends, heed my plea. Approach the white board in your own job site with caution.

Church Chick

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