Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where the Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Shel Silverstein

I remember memorizing this poem in the third or fourth grade and reciting it to my class. In child-like wonderment I pictured this sidewalk that seemed to extend off to the horizon, and if you followed it for long enough you will find the wondrous place of soft grass illuminated by a crimson sun where you could rest with the birds in a peppermint smelling wind. I wanted to find the end, the finish, the great finale of the sidewalk that held every step we took, that measured with each crack and line a new journey, and that led off to the unknown and unseen future.

And yet as an adult I still marvel at this poem, at the desire to know the end of the story, the completion of the journey, to find that place where the sidewalk ends. And yet it is also a struggle, to want to know the ending, always looking ahead at the path in front wondering where it leads. I struggle to know how things end, how all the different parts play out. In movies I’m frustrated when you see the two main characters walk off into the sunset because I want to know where they go, what happens to them next, I want to see where their sidewalk ends.

I approach God like that at times. Show me where the sidewalk ends, show me how the story finishes, show me the big picture. And yet that’s not how we live our lives. There’s a very important word in sidewalk. Walk. You have to walk it, you have to travel it square by square, moving forward, taking in what’s surrounding you, and remembering what lies behind. We walk with a walk that is measured and slow, we follow the chalk-white arrows where they go, and we’re always walking towards the place that the sidewalk ends. We wonder and dream of what it is like, there where the sidewalk ends, and yet we walk along always following, but often never knowing the ending until we find our feet standing in the grass with the warmth of the sun on our face and the sweet smell of peppermint in our noses. We walk as children knowing without seeing where the sidewalk ends. We walk by faith knowing that the ending is so worth the journey.

11 Comments:

Blogger Emily said...

I LOVE Shel Silverstein!! And I agree totally.. sometimes I look at life that way too.

10/04/2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

That was nice, Katie. How did your move go? Hope all is well.

10/04/2006 9:09 PM  
Blogger amelia said...

Ah Shel Silverstein was also one of my favorites and I took him to school quite often!!

10/04/2006 10:03 PM  
Blogger Amstaff Mom said...

All these edumacated people. I've never read Shel. As I read this I only had King George in my head.

"Wea-yr the sidewalk ennnnnds
You said gooood-bye."

(from the Pure Country soundtrack)

10/05/2006 2:13 PM  
Blogger Eddo said...

I am with Amstaff mom! I kept singing that same song and then you said walk and there is this new song called "Walk it out" it goes, North Side Walk it out, east side walk it out, south side walk it out, West side walk it out and it goes on and on and you had these really nice points to make and I kept singing in my head and I think I am a little bit crazy

10/05/2006 4:11 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

HA, JCol I thought of the song too (can't help but honor good ol George Straight)

Kristi - the move was good, most of my stuff is now in boxes but it helped me clean out a lot of stuff I've been hauling around for way too long

Eddo - you are a bit nuts, but we love you that way

10/05/2006 4:43 PM  
Blogger Aim Claim said...

ahhhhh... the end of the sidewalk.

Great poem. Reminds me of my childhood, and yet it is amazing that I never really thought about it as deeply as I do reading it now. Thanks for the flashback KT.

10/05/2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Shel was magic

10/06/2006 1:28 AM  
Blogger Bobby said...

As usual, great post. Very true and very colorfully presented.

Shel Silverstein was a major poet, for sure.

10/06/2006 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Jayleigh said...

It reminds me of a song we sang last year in Choir:

Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.

10/06/2006 8:17 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Never heard of Shel Silverstein... And I TOO thought of George Straight with this poem as well. Jsass rocks!

10/06/2006 3:26 PM  

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