A simple experience with a pile of goo on a staircase and a three-year-old granddaughter might just wind up making me a millionaire with an exciting new line of souvenir key chains. Or maybe I just learned how a deep spiritual lesson can be compressed into four simple words.
I was visiting my daughter, Mary Susan, near Dallas, and her family, including daughter, Ali, and baby boy, Parker. Going anyplace involved the shoes, the diaper bag, the Bjorn, finding cell phones and pocketbooks, packing snacks, and then getting everyone down two flights of outside stairs to the car.
Halfway down one flight of steps was a pile of goo permanently attached to one of the steps. It looked to be some kind of tar, and it absolutely fascinated Ali every single time we went down those steps. However much her mother tried to convince her that we needed to hurry to get in the car, she would stop, bend over, and pick at that spot with her fingernail.
“What is it, Mom?”
“I don’t know. Don’t touch it. Go down the steps,” Mary Susan would say, usually dangling Parker and a heavy diaper bag. The whole procession would have to stop when Ali stopped and try not to bump into her as she bent over on the step.
Every . . . single . . . time.
Finally a couple of days into this whole repetitive process, I got what I thought was a bright idea.
There we were in the middle of the stairs, her little finger poking at the gooey spot.
“What is it, Mom?”
“I don’t know. Let’s go,” Mary Susan said once again.
“It’s dog poop,” I said. There were, after all, lots of dogs in the apartment building. Surely Ali would believe that, become disgusted, and give up her inquisitive quest. After all, doesn’t everyone use the dog poop brownie lesson with the Young Men and Young Women at some time?
She was even more fascinated and dug deeper with her finger.
“Is it really, Mom? Is it really dog poop?”
So it wasn’t my finest moment as a grandmother, at least according to my daughter.
“Why did you say that?” Mary Susan said, as we all stood stalled on the stairs. “Now we’ll never get past this.”
“I thought it would help . . .” (Eventually she’ll come around to my way of thinking.)
Turning back to Ali, she sternly said, “It’s icky. Move on.”
Eventually we did that trip, but unfortunately, we continued to address the pile on subsequent trips.
But “It’s icky; move on”- that’s quite a thought, one that I’ve considered a lot since my daughter said it.
If we lived by that motto, we could avoid a lot of matters that we choose to wade through instead of walk around.
How many lives, marriages, and families would be unscathed by the evil of pornography if at the first glance someone decided “That’s icky. I’ll move on.”
What about the sin of unfaithfulness, whether in the preliminary “lusteth in his heart stage” or when allowed to flower into full-blown adultery? In modern, three-year-old language isn’t that what Joseph was thinking when he fled and left his cloak in the hands of Potiphar’s wife? “This is icky. I’ll move on.”
I teach at a community college and walk every day through crowds of young people gathered in every kind of weather smoking and usually cursing. Many of them say they have been smoking since they were 13 or 14. Staying awake and alert during Monday 8 a.m. classes are a struggle for many of them as the evidences of a weekend spent drinking or doing drugs are apparent. Their lives would be very different if years ago they had looked at these particular choices and said, “This might be icky. I think I’ll move on.”
The list of icky things is endless: Taking offense when none is intended or even when it is, refusing to forgive, being mean, making unwise choices on the Sabbath day, media choices (oh boy, there’s a lot of ickiness there to move on from), pride, language choices, evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed, gossiping, sticking our toes into the doorway of apostasy, dishonesty, etc., etc.
Call it what you will-Robert Frost’s two roads diverging in a yellow wood, strait gate or broad way, iron rod or mists of darkness, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve,” natural man or a saint, liberty and eternal life or captivity and death, into everyone’s life comes a suspicious pile on a staircase.
You can, like a three-year-old, stop every single time you go past and stick your finger into it or listen to that much wiser voice that tells you “It’s icky; move on.”
And then you can just move on.
P.S. If you ever see a keychain with this written on it in an airport, please buy one!