I’m not sure why, but all it took was walking through the door of HyVee and spotting it, for the tears to flow… Rainbow Jello. Not just any Rainbow Jello; it’s the kind that comes in a plastic container shaped like a bunt cake; every color of the rainbow swirled around in glorious bliss. And let’s not forget the swirls of crème.
Sigh. Okay, so I fibbed. I know exactly why the Jello, right in the entryway of the HyVee, caused the tears to flow as I pushed my cart through the automatic doors.
When I was growing up, my parents, brother, and I went camping every weekend from April to October. It started with a pop-up camper, and when they had saved enough money, my parents purchased a travel trailer, a 1987 Mallard Sprinter. The trailer was parked in Three Rivers Michigan in a campground built into tree covered hills. It was every child’s dream. Each Friday we would load up the family fun wagon…
Minor Pause: Close your eyes and picture it: A blue, 1987 Chrysler Town and County Station Wagon with wood panels – and let’s not forget the flip up seats in the back – and if you have no idea what I’m describing, summon the Google or ask Siri because this isn’t the only time this Griswald mobile is going to roll through a blog post of mine – anyhow, I’ll save the rest of that fond memory for a later date. Back to the story…
Each Friday we would load up the family fun wagon with enough clothes, bathing suits, and personal items for the weekend ahead. For me that included my clear jelly sandals and my trusty light blue rabbit named Thumper. It took two and a half hours to drive from our house to Robert’s Corey Lake Campground in Three Rivers Michigan. The whole way I would think about what we were going to do all weekend – the campfires, tubing behind Grandpa’s boat – and most of all I would pray that it would be there when we arrived. “It” was Rainbow Jello with Crème and “there” was D&W Grocery Store. Each Friday when we got to “The Lake”, as we called it, we would drive into town to the local grocery store. I’m not entirely sure when it started, but that rainbow Jello with crème became a staple of my weekends as a child; a symbol of Summer. Sure the crème was swirled in with what I’m sure was probably some type of food colored high fructose cancer causing life altering wiggling mass… but man was it good. As I look back on that Jello, I know it had nothing to do with the Jello itself. It had to do with love. Before someone gets all hot and bothered and goes into some spiraling comment about how food associated with love is bad, just calm down stuff some kale in your mouth and give me a minute. The love had nothing to do with the Jello itself, it had to do with the memories attached. Memories of sitting at the table with my Mom, Dad and brother. Memories of sitting at the picnic table with my grandparents. Memories. Love. Goosebumps. Family. All the Feels.
And so there I was crying over Jello, right in the middle of the entrance to the HyVee. If you read my previous blog post regarding feelings, you know that I absolutely hate crying. It is not my jam. In fact, I hate crying so much, that I will literally hold my breath and swallow continuously until the urge goes away. Except this time… I couldn’t. It had been a long week and I had held it too long and it was just too late. And so, I cried and let it out, right there in the entry of HyVee. When I say I let it out, I don’t mean all of it; I mean enough so that I could get my avocados and eggs and get my happy camper @$$ out of the store before my gentle shower of tears turned into a torrential downpour.
Happy tears. As much as I don’t like them some of the time -who am I kidding- most of the time; feelings and tears and emotions mean something important. It means we’re alive. And not only are we just alive, we are human. And I know it is for that reason that I cried over Rainbow Jello… humanness.
You see, this week I spoke before the School Board of Mankato. And as I spoke, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was a human, in a sea of emotionless beings. I was speaking from the heart, and the few times I looked up, I couldn’t see it. And not only could I not see it, I couldn’t feel it. And by it, I mean emotion. I couldn’t feel anything from them. It was as though I was wrong… for being human. How I’m sad. I’m learning to own my feelings and not just plow through onto the next mission. And so, friends; How I’m sad. How I’m sad that in many places in our world today, especially in education, humanness is removed. How I’m sad, that children are growing up in complex systems full of more systems created by humans, with very few elements of actual humanness. I’m sad because after that meeting, I felt like I failed. I didn’t see any emotion and so I felt like I failed to move anyone; that I failed to stir any action. I’m sad, because I’m learning that it’s okay to feel sad… And that sadness is not a sign of weakness… And that it doesn’t mean I’ve failed. Because hope can come out of sadness.
Whether you believe that the story of the Flood is just that, a story, or whether you believe it was an actual event in history, the Flood to me is a story of hope coming out of sadness. People had just been wiped off the face of the earth, literally, by an earth covering flood. Aside from Noah and his family, everyone was gone. There was great sadness. But God promised Noah and His people that He would never send another flood to cover the whole earth and He placed a rainbow in the sky as a reminder. Hope.
Hope can emerge out of great sadness. And so, while it is okay for me to be sad, when I see a rainbow, I am always reminded of good things and filled with hope. Even if that rainbow is in the form of Jello with crème.