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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Hearing Voices

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Originally published December 14, 2007

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

Lately, I’ve been hearing voices. They come to me unexpectedly, just like they do to Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”.

When hearing these voices, I am always driving my car. In actual fact, they are not voices but words on a large sign at Zion Lutheran Church on Park Boulevard in Piedmont that I regularly pass in my car. I still think of them as voices, though, because they are the words of others.

They are quotations or sayings. Each one is there for about a week before being replaced by another. Most of them I have not heard before, and usually, they are not attributed to a source. Despite the fact they are obviously chosen by the church, they rarely have religious overtones. They sound more like lessons on life from a wise grandfather.

He’s a grandfather with a way for words. The sayings offer essential truths with only the most essential words such as “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.” They often use a clever turn of phrase or metaphor like “It takes more to plow a field than merely turning it over in your mind” and “It takes a long time to grow an old friend”. (Frequent references to planting lead me to believe this grandfather is not from around here — more of a country farmer than an urban cowboy.)

All of the sayings address the most basic aspects of life such as relationships, work, money and happiness. So they speak to everyone with messages like “Contentment isn’t getting what we want but being satisfied with what we have.”

It’s the basic things in life, though, that we often find most complicated. By the same token, there are no easy answers. Yet these sayings make choices seem simpler than we might think, such as “Worry is a misuse of imagination.”

At times, the sayings might even sound too simple. “You can afford everything you want, if you just want less” may sound a little too much like the words of a simple country farmer.

It seems to me, however, the simplicity of the sayings makes them powerful. If our choices are actually less complicated than we think, then answers to important questions in life are within our grasp. Nothing is more powerful than that.

For this reason, whenever I am driving by the church’s sign, I cannot help but look. I always find meaning in the sayings, and they make me double-check my own choices.

Life would be so easy if we could learn to always make the right choices. One of the sayings comes to mind. “Live so the preachers do not have to lie at your funeral”. Now, that’s as good as anything Scrooge learned.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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