As we round the corner at my friend Colleen’s red brick house near the entrance of our neighborhood, I throw up my hand in greeting even when there is nobody outside. My husband used to ask doubtfully, “Who do you see?” but now he remains quiet and silently judges me. Growing up along a WV one-lane country road, we were all loyal wavers. Each local has an individual signature wave. My dad’s is a confident yet friendly right hand finger roll with a gun point at the end. Mine is a fast back and forth motion, a wave much like the shaking of a squirrel tail which incidentally got my buddy shot when he went squirrel hunting with his apparently blind brother. (He’s full of lead but OK now.)
On family vacations we kids, along with Mom and Aunt Hilda, were stowed in the back of the station wagon or a truck bed and to pass time we would wave to other cars. They always waved back, probably because we were facing them out the back window and we simply wore them down. One car sporting a beautiful rainbow flag merited extra flailing and the two ladies in the car smiled with obvious appreciation at our stuffy vehicle full of wiry kids and tired haggard women. Especially fun was pumping a fist in the air and pulling it down when we passed 18-wheelers. The truckers rewarded us with loud blasts on their air horn, which in turn also helped Dad and Uncle Jack stay alert in the front seat. When we were older girls riding the 4-H float in the Woodchopping Festival parade, we learned to do the pageant wave to appear sophisticated.
Knowing the right wave is imperative! A few years ago there was a man stranded in the Alaskan wilderness who perished because he mistakenly gave the signal for “ALL OK—DO NOT WAIT” to the rescue plane which then flew away! Knowing what signals you’re sending can be a matter of life or death. We have friends who recently started boating and discovered it’s a federal law they must have an orange distress flag aboard to wave in case of emergency. While our friends are merely lake boaters with unrivaled survival skills the law recognizes different people hit their distress level at different points. As in life, even when dry land (comfort and peace) is in sight some panic because they’re afraid of sinking before they reach it. On the other hand, sometimes strongminded and calm people don’t think they need Jesus to save them. Believing they can get to Heaven on their own good works, pride won’t allow them to wave a “rescue me” flag.
My sister, Cindy, and I didn’t have a distress flag on a kayak outing down the Little Miami River but clearly we were in need of help. Our vessel had taken on too much water and was going down. Notability the degree of distress was lessened because our feet could still touch bottom, which was another lesson learned-- It’s vital to stay grounded.
Admittedly it’s been harder to stay grounded in 2020, but one thing that has helped is knowing/showing love. “…and I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…”(Ephesians 3:17&18) Being grounded in that soul-saving love provides us some genuine security. When we are in over our heads, we have a lifeline. And whether our hands are waving a friendly greeting to connect us, or waving an orange distress flag, we can best be served if we take time to fold them in prayer. Isn’t it interesting that S.O.S., although not an abbreviation, is often associated with the phrase Save Our Souls, which therein recognizes our biggest crisis? We all need saving.
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Janet Cowger- Fliegel