Today was a tornado of a day. I didn’t get home from work until 9:30. I never do that.
My mind and my body raced all day–from project to project, from idea to idea, from need to need. I’m not only doing marketing for my hospital, but for a sister hospital who is between marketing directors. So today I was buried in projects, dealing with people I have never met, and others I have known for years. It was exhausting, but productive, and rewarding, and fulfilling. My head is still spinning.
But that may be from all the coffee. I did sneak in a Starbucks treat around 6:00 during my short break between work stints.
I didn’t really work until 9:30, I actually did homework from around 6-9:30. It just helps to do it somewhere besides my house, which is filled with temptations and distractions. One minute I’m reading some gosh-awfully boring research article on the philosophical differences between theories of semantics and pragmatics, and the next minute I’m picking the lint out of my hair dryer and dusting the top of my refrigerator. Because it really does need it, but I’m too short to notice until times like these, when I’m desperate for a distraction. Anything will do.
So now that I’m exhausted, worn out, emptied out, and drained, I am sitting here on my front porch, enjoying an unseasonable cool evening (I even broke out the pink hoodie for warmth!), sitting in silence in my favorite rocking chair that my dad so kindly gave to me last year when I was going through a particularly tough time. Dads are great like that sometimes. I know mine is.
See, look at me ramble. I have had an extremely introspective evening. I think it’s all of the theory research I have been doing. It’s so boring that my mind wanders and I find myself pondering the meaning of life instead of the Peircean theory of semiotics. You would do the same thing if you were me.
As I drove home from work tonight, with my windows rolled down and the cool night air blowing my long, disheveled pony-tail, listening to John Mayer on the radio, I thought about how life applies to the theory I’m researching. It’s the theory of semiotics, or signs. The theory says that basically every object is simply an object until we apply meaning to it. Once we do that, it becomes a sign, or a symbol, and some of those symbols can take on mythic qualities–like the yellow ribbon which symbolizes a welcome home to a soldier returning from war. Even the word love is a sign, which can have different meanings depending on your life experiences and the context. We all could debate for hours the meaning of love, but that would be a futile and already exhausted debate that leads to nowhere. And I don’t have the energy to do that tonight.
So back to sign theory… all of that reading has me thinking about signs in my life. I love my new blue jeans (that I got on sale for just $10… woo hoo!) because they make me feel cute and perky (and the pockets mask the derriere quite well!). They represent my fun, casual side. My delicate gold necklace is a sign that reminds me of my dad, who so sweetly bought it for me at one of his Harley-Davidson rallies (how fun that my dad goes to motorcycle rallies, and even better… that he buys his girls jewelry at them!). My running shoes represent the diligence I’m having to practice to get ready for my half marathon. Those shoes represent a lot of sweat, and soreness, and lost sleep. The flowers in my garden represent my great gardening experiment–can I make it as a successful homeowner or am I sham that doesn’t know the difference between a gardening tool and a hair pick? My front porch rocking chairs represent my independence, my dad’s sweet gesture of love, and my need to experience occasional quiet amidst all of the turmoil that makes up my life.
But what about my God? Oh yes, he is the great inventor of signs. He’s been creating them long before Peirce ever thought of them. From the rainbow, which represents his promise of never destroying his earth again, to (gasp) circumcision (can you say that in a blog?) that marked his chosen people as different from the crowd. Whenever Abraham heard from God, he built an alter to signify the encounter.
One of my favorite signs comes from Joshua, when he led the Israelites into the promised land. First he had to cross the Jordan, and God miraculously parted the water so the people could cross to dry land. And remember, these folks had been wandering in the desert, desperate to finally attain this far-away land that God had promised them but which had seemed so unreachable. So let’s just say that this was kind of a big deal. And something that’s a big deal definitely deserves a sign.
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, “What do these stones mean?” tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. –Joshua 4:4-7
And it’s funny. I’m an avid scribbler in my Bible. If you flip through it, you can quickly see which books are my favorite, and which I have taught in Sunday School, because the words are almost unreadable. I have made notes, on top of notes, and as I flip back through my Bible, these words are signs to me… reminders of things I have learned in the past, of troubles I dealt with, pain I felt, grace I encountered, and relief I experienced as I grew with the Word. These are my signs, pointing me toward a better relationship with Christ. Pointing me toward my promised land.