This past weekend we went to, seriously, the cutest, most nostalgic and quaint parade that I think exists on the planet. This rave review does not come out of a place of traveling the globe to rate the myriad of parades that walk down your average road. But the Max Wellington Fourth of July parade invited me into another time, place and feeling. I felt as though I had traveled in a time machine onto a beach to the mid 1900’s and realized that all this time I had been living in the wrong era. Things were brighter. People smiled more. Families liked each other. Everyone ate strawberry shortcake. The spirit and festivity was incredible! We walked along the beach past these old historic homes passing the parade goers and the parade partakers to find a place to sit. As the parade began I was struck by the beauty and diversity of each passer by.
There was this one kid that caught my eye as he was following the Lions Club motorists who were revving their engines so loudly in pride for the amount of money they had raised for charities across the country. Now you have to imagine that from this little guy’s perspective, after following these hardcore bikers on a trike for 20 minutes, he wasn’t as impressed by the roaring engines or the black pleather pants as we were. I was impressed by this kid’s natural response to cover his ears because he lacked the portrayal and “put on” image that he should be a certain way and instead was exactly as he felt. This boy was trying to be nothing other than less loud.
There were the gnomes. Who enters a parade and says “let’s dress up as gnomes” ? These guys. I have no idea why. They weren’t advertising anything. They apparently like to hide in gardens, wear white beards and lift carriages holding chicks in smocks with pointy toes.
This girl just loved her dog. She loved her dog so much that she was grabbing his right paw and waving it to the crowd, in a way to say hello to all through her pooch’s paw. Everyone who saw her could relate because we all remember communicating things to the world though our pets. She made me want to hop in a red wagon and have some strong fella pull me while I hold a cute Cocker Spaniel and hide behind him and let the world know, I really am, friendly.
There were the hippy flower children women who wore moccasins and whose bike baskets were full of daisies and fresh produce. Rather than throw candy, they were throwing radishes. There is nothing more you’d rather eat for a snack than a warm radish that has been tossed at you like a piece of taffy, landed on the pavement that countless people have walked, only to bite into its spicy refreshment. These women brought us back to dirt and seeds and foods closest to God. They stole us for a moment away from busyness and pesticides and fake sugar. They made me want to skip to my loo and run through a field of poppies and braid my hair. After these women were the stilt walkers, the dogs in strollers and the man who wore the thought provoking message “be the parade you want to see.”
We don’t go to parades to watch people all look and do the same thing. Imagine a parade that is only people on horses, white horses wearing the exact same plaid shirt yelling “yeehaw” with the poop collector girl walking behind them cleaning it up over and over again. Or imagine a parade where only kids wear red, white and blue and ride bikes and plug their ears and that is all that happens. (The kid plugging his ears caught my eyes because he was the only kid plugging his ears.) Imagine a parade where everyone brings scarves and flags and waves them above their heads to the same song, a Fleetwood Mac song, and this goes on for 60 minutes. Imagine a parade where old men bring their collector cars that all look the same, red chevys, and they drive by and wave with their bored wives on the passenger side waving too, as if to say drearily “…another parade I have to go to with my car obsessed husband.” If parades were like this, we wouldn’t pack up our foldable chairs, put on our visors and sit in the hot sun all too cheer monotony and cookie cutters.
We like parades because we like to people watch. We like to people watch because we appreciate the diversity of people. We like that one man is obsessed with cars and another with pirates. We like stories about soldiers coming home from war and stories of families who unicycle together.
We like to see people marching for boy scouts, community gardens, religious freedom and just for fun.
When God said “I made you in my image” and we look around and see so many images, the vastness of who God is becomes greater than we can imag(ine). When I see the degree of difference in how we express ourselves I think about how God has expressed Himself through the burning bush, the rainbow and the sunset, the whisper to Elijah, and
through Jesus who constantly tells us “I am here expressing myself to you world – telling you what I am like.” When I see the variety of colors in our skin I know that God is not white, brown, nor black but all are stamped in His likeness whether we are from Scandinavia, South Korea or a far away place and story we have yet to discover. When I am faced with the different ways we think about life I am in awe by God and His thoughts, His wisdom, and His perspective that spans the universe beyond the big dipper and the milky way. In life’s parade, I am reminded we are all made in our Creator’s image and I image Him to be the most brilliant color spectrum. I imagine God likened to the most interesting of novels. I imagine our Maker to be the most thought provoking of conversationalists. I imagine Him to be the most creative artist that draws us into His work. When we look at one another and the differences seem vast, let us not forget “they too” are made in His image. When we cannot see eye to eye, let us not forget, even those we disagree with were created in God’s likeness. When we wave a different flag, must we not forget, we have the same Daddy.
When you sit in your chair and watch the parade pass you by, don’t just try and get all the candy, don’t just look for the people you know, don’t just critique those who walk by for whatever “stupid cause” they are behind, but instead see God and all that He has sculpted- for His work is awe inspiring. And His work is you. And His work is me. And His work is
them. And His work parades by us each and every day.