By: Mary Bone
Beyond the cracked sidewalk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of brown grass there stood a ten foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice!
The concrete block wall was a place for the people of Belmont to come together and memorialize their friends and loved ones who had been injured or killed at this busy intersection over the years. Some lights had been installed recently because of the many complaints from the public. A kid named Milo Abbot had been fortunate in a recent accident at this location.
Milo was a passenger in a small car that had left the roadway and hit the telephone pole on Belmont road. Nobody else was injured that day and he had come to see the red and gold tribute to him and Nellie Jane that simply read, Rejoice!”
A poem had been published in the local Gazette that had helped this close community feel better and it was from, “Anonymous.” It read: A Prayer: none of us knows what tomorrow will hold, or what may come our way. Help us keep our eyes on you, Dear God, I pray. This was very comforting words and they came at a good time.
Nellie Jane Monroe was Milo’s good friend from Junior High and she was driving the day of the accident. Nellie Jane came back to the scene to read the notes that had been left on the wall as a tribute to them both. Everyone in town said it was a miracle that they survived.
There were several bible verses and poems tacked on to the telephone pole. Since this road was so busy, Nellie Jane and Milo had to walk about a block from their car to read the well wishes. It was a great time to rejoice, since it was almost Thanksgiving. Christmas was just around the corner. The red and gold colors were bright and cheery. Tears came to their eyes when they saw how much the community loved them.
The following note had been put on Nellie Jane’s car after school: From Somewhere Deep Within-my heart does ache. From somewhere deep within, it feels like a heart break. Way down deep in my soul, there is a pain, beyond control. Lord, help me deal with this pain, It hurts so much and the tears are falling like rain. From somewhere deep within, there’s a constant war against sin, and Lord, you know the shape I’m in, from somewhere deep within.
Wow! This must have come from a student in Mrs. Jame’s writing class. Boy, was that deep and emotional! There was a random quote left on their window shield entitled,” God’s the cure.” God is our strength and salvation, the cure for the world’s ills all across the nation.”
One of the teddy bears had Milo’s name on it. The other teddy bear had Nellie’s name on it. A recent rain had left everything a little wet, but they could still read the sentiments. The brown patch of grass was a reminder of where someone else hadn’t been as fortunate as they had been. It was a grim reminder of another accident that had happened there.
The candles that were placed along the wall were very expensive. A candlemaker in town had donated them in memory of many people that were killed or injured. The candles were also a reminder to be thankful that the last two wrecks were a miracle. The candles had rainbow colors and glow at night. They would hopefully, remind people to slow down. Most of the candles were solar powered. Milo and Nellie Jane had worked at Ann’s Candles part-time to earn money during the summer. They always smelled like vanilla or spices that burned in the store during the day, when they worked there.
This sentiment by someone in the community was attached to the wall with some tape, it read, “My Life is an Open Book”, My life is an open book, with eyes prying in. Only God knows which path I took, He knows my darkest sin. My life is like an open book, because people are so nosy. Someone is always trying to get me on the hook, I’m too old to play ring around the rosy. Why do people have eyes that peer? They look in every nook and cranny. With eyes like fire, they soar. You almost feel like they are your granny. What did this poem mean to the writer and why was it left on the wall? What connection did this posting have with the accidents that had happened there? It was hard to decipher some of the notes. It was evident that someone had poured their heart into these notes, the pain was obvious.
The community of Belmont had been on the news many times about getting lights placed on Tenth Street for a long time. It was an ongoing process where they had to get signatures and then present their list of accidents to the leaders of the town. The latest accidents finally got some attention and the lights were installed. This was such a happy day for everyone.
Belmont had many historic places to visit and they needed to make their town a landmark for sightseers from around the globe. There were many new businesses that were wanting to move to the area because of the many attractions the town had to offer. Excitement about the most wonderful time of the year, ”Christmas,” kept the coffee shops buzzing every morning on main street. The Christmas spirit and the winter season, the beauty of the tradition was coming alive.
Some of the poems left at the memorial site were some of the following poems stuck on the telephone pole with a stapler: You Carry the Torch: You carry the torch, So others can see, Your love of God, and Christ’s victory .You’ve showed love to others, In Christ, through your sisters and brothers, Across the land, you’ve shown love, given to you by God above. We know the torch you still carry, and your love of God will never tarry. We thank you, for what you’ve meant, for we all know you were heaven sent.
This note to Nellie Jane and Milo was a prayer poem and someone drew praying hands with it: Dear Lord A Prayer: Help us keep our eyes on you, morning, noon and night. We know you’ll see us through. Lord, you know our plight. Lord, watch over us and be our guide. You know our weakness Lord- help us keep you by our side.
It seemed like every day there was a new poem or drawing left at the wall or stapled to the telephone pole. This town was becoming a beacon to all. The city of Belmont held dreams for the future and the youth of the community.
Since the notes, prayers and poems were so good, they decided to compile them into a book and kept a daily record of some of the people that sent them. Many of the prayers, notes and poems didn’t have names attached, but they were heartfelt and powerful. Just the extra inspiration that kept them coming back every day.
It was decided to have a pre-Thanksgiving tribute to the survivors on main street and a small lunch would be served at the park. The street was roped off for the event. Milo got to speak first. Lots of thought went through Milo’s head before he got up to speak.
Milo had seen a school counselor after the car wreck he was in. Some of the things the counselor had said stuck with him. He told him that if he could go on a small journey of discovery, just to get out of town for awhile, he could reflect on his scenic excursions and it would clear his mind.
The counselor said that a journey would awaken, nourish and expand his mind. He told him to “set sail” for new horizons and he didn’t have to go that far. Milo was thinking about going to see some of his cousins in another state that he hadn’t seen in lately, when school was out for the holidays.
The audience was waiting for Milo to come up and speak. There did seem to be quite a bit of bustling about in the audience. He was just trying to get through this the best he could since he wasn’t used to being in front of a crowd every day.
The kid got up onto a milk crate and raised his hand. A murmur went through the crowd and then it fell silent, except for a few people shouting words of encouragement at him. The kid acknowledged them with a nod and shy smile. In the full light of day, he looked less angry and more beautiful. He waited until people stopped shouting. A siren could be heard, maybe five or ten blocks away. The kid raised the bullhorn, pressed the button, and began to speak.
“Thanks everyone for coming out on this day to celebrate Thanksgiving!” We have a lot to be thankful for. We are happy that the street lights have been installed and thankful that we can give thanks with the many freedoms that we have.” Nellie Jane came forward and said, “We are so thankful that we were spared in a recent wreck.” “We know that God has plans for us and we are here for a reason.”
Mrs. Jame’s class had put a poem together in memory of the bereaved and she began to read: The Bereaved: We toss, we mourn, we grieve, and wipe our tears upon our sleeve. Our loss, so great, it hurts within. God seals the fate of all men. He has a love like we’ve never seen, and upon Him, we must all lean.
As the mayor of Belmont came forward, the sounds of the sirens a few blocks away had stopped. There were so many people that came from the surrounding towns to fellowship and visit that it was hard to find a parking space. The local law enforcement had been directing traffic all morning. The mayor took the bull horn and said he would like to get an art scholarship started for the youth of the town, since so many young artists from the school had been leaving their artwork on the wall.
The media attention had put their town in the spotlight and it had been noticed on a large scale, including the adjoining counties. Nobody knew for sure who had been painting large murals on the wall, but they must have had a ladder to reach to the top of the wall to paint. Artists from other areas would come to try to paint the inspiration of the wall. A wet sidewalk on a rainy day could reflect neon lights from the new traffic lights that had been installed. The area had started to bustle with life. Paintbrushes were capturing the lights and darks of the mural depicted on the wall.
A moment of silence was held to reflect the many losses at Belmont and the youth leader of a local church read from a small devotional the following entitled, “My Daily Break.” My daily break from the grueling grind, my daily break, gives me peace of mind, that in this world is hard to find. My daily break begins with prayer, and it’s peaceful, knowing God is there.
The owner of Ann’s Candles came forward and said a few words of praise for Milo and Nellie Jane and some other young people that were present. Ann had hired some of the other teenagers in town since her business had picked up. She said she was thinking about adding a new line of teddy bears and naming them after Milo and Nellie Jane.
Ann had been thinking of adding some coffee mugs and putting a poem that was sent to her shop to give to Nellie Jane since she did have a few injuries the day of the accident. The poem was entitled, ”Memories.” These lines followed: She licked her wounds, which ran so deep, and sang old tunes, as she began to weep. Memories have a way to haunt you, no matter where you go, and they will flaunt your very soul.
Ann’s ideas were rapidly growing when she thought about putting another poem entitled, “Heavenly Eternity”, on some pictures on some postcards of the wall’s memorial. The poem went: When the mountain streams gave birth to a gusher, that ran into the sea, your thoughts were just as scattered, when it came to me. The winding paths you took led you to a heavenly eternity.” This was in memory of those that had passed at the dangerous intersection at the memorial wall.
The crowd was so lively that there were many rounds of applause. Many people that were listening to the speeches had some great ideas and since Christmas was coming up, they wanted to have a tree lighting ceremony and to make it an annual event.
A poem entitled, “Take it to the Lord,” was read by Nellie Jane. The poem went: Sometimes the world seems to crater. But, Lord I know you’re there. Bad things are happening everywhere. But, I know I can take it to the Lord, in prayer.
Nellie Jane finished her speech by saying, “This has been a very emotional day.” Milo and I are hoping to establish a scholarship fund for the youth of our town. We have been reading some of the sentiments each day and the poems and it would be nice to have a coffee table book of some of the prayers, quotes and poems. We could sell the devotional books at Ann’s Candle store and the proceeds could go into an Interest bearing account for writing scholarships.
It had been a long day since Milo and Nellie Jane had been setting up the large crate all afternoon. Milo had been angry earlier in the day when he found out someone had been stealing a few of the candles from the ten-foot concrete wall memorial. During the day the sun had glistened on his hair and he felt like a movie star up on the crate in front of the people. Milo and Nellie Jane’s friends had been on hand to help paint and set things up that day and everything looked nice.
Sheriff Mike came up to the podium. He thanked the crowd for coming and told them he would do everything in his power to try and find out who would take candles from the memorial. He said his deputies would drive by more often and shine lights around at night to see if there was anybody trying to steal anything.
The sheriff said he thought that some of the recent thefts of candles at the memorial wall could have been some homeless people that had been sleeping along the wall. The candles had been recovered from underneath some benches that were placed on 10th Street. Someone yelled from the audience that they could’ve lit the candles to stay warm. The Sheriff said that it could be a possibility.
Sheriff Mike said the homeless people were coming in from the interstate and hopefully, the community could try to find ways to help the homeless people. He read a poem entitled, “The Drifter,” that let people in the town think about homeless people’s plight. He read this poem entitled, “The Drifter”: I was cut off-a drifter-traveling near and far. As a drifter, I came and went as I pleased. I moved frequently- just passing through, hoping to find my own place.
The crowd just loved it and began clapping. It seemed like everyone in the community was a writer, poet or artist. It was a very creative town. No wonder everyone was wanting to come to this town.
Pastor Tom Snell led everyone in a short prayer as the meeting ended and read a poem that someone had handed him earlier. The poem was entitled, “ Seeking God.” The poem said, ”I’m seeking the Lord’s will, in all that I do. I don’t know what’s over the hill, I haven’t a clue. The Lord knows all, and will pick me up when I fall. Whether I’m warm or have a chill, I will continually seek the Lord’s will.
Pastor Snell read from his list of favorite poems. This one is untitled: Today your friends unite, all across the land. We are praying with all of our might, lending a helping hand. We are praying you’ll receive the answer for your health. We all know it means more than earthly wealth.
Today we all say a prayer, knowing you are in God’s care. He holds you in His hand, and His love is always there. We know the Lord sees everything we do and we pray, that He blesses you in a special way, and the benefits you will reap. May God bless you all.
Also, this is one is about God’s promises to us and has meant a lot to me over the years: God’s promises: He’s given something for my sorrow. He’s given me promises of tomorrow. I know of His existence, because he keeps coming back to me, with persistence. Thank you, God!
Milo and Nellie Jane had become great friends since the accident. They talked and texted each other every day. They had decided to go to the prom together. Some crosses were starting to turn up at the memorial site and they found out that the carpentry class at school had been making them. Mr. Solomon, the carpentry class teacher, was impressed with the way his students had been painting the crosses in the rainbow colors like the rainbows on the Memorial wall. Ann’s Candle’s had started selling the crosses along with other arts and craft items and was giving a portion of the proceeds from all of the sales to the scholarship fund that had been established for future Belmont students to attend college.
Milo was still pondering about taking a trip. He was thinking about a seaside destination. He would like to make friends with seagulls and let them eat out of his hand. He would like to make some precious memories that would last a lifetime.
The more Milo thought about it, the idea sounded great. He was sharing his plans with Nellie. She thought it was a great idea too . She said he should go and visit and she would certainly miss him when he was gone. She said it would be great if her family could go and they would all go on a mini-vacation because she needed to get away too. They agreed that they would talk it over with their families.
Milo felt like he might like to start writing poetry and he came up with this little ditty: Vacation vibes are in my ear, where am I going this year? Far away you say? I’ll save it for another day. Hey, I might be a poet. If I work on this, I might be able to win a scholarship. It doesn’t hurt to try.
Milo could feel a chill in the air and he was thinking of making some soup. Another poem came to his mind that he liked better than the other one and this was his thoughts about soup: The soup told us, winter was coming. The beef bones had stew all morning until the vegetables and spices were added. I dipped my cornbread into the stew, getting ready for the upcoming chill. All Milo needed was a title. He finally settled on, ”Soup’s On!”
Milo dug out his old typewriter and typed up his poem. He thought he had a very good shot at a scholarship. If he went on a trip, the scholarship money would come in handy later on, when he went to school. He thought of another short poem untitled so far. It was: A tropical vacation, an ocean breeze, quiet reflection. He was definitely ready for exploration and rejuvenation.
The scholarship committee was already planning on having a New Year’s party and inviting people from the surrounding towns to come to the event. This scholarship would consist of a writing contest to start the new year off right. The committee would put their favorite short stories and poems into a bucket and let someone from the audience draw out a name. The winner would get a full ride to the college of their choice. The other entries would also receive varying amounts to be used for college expenses.
A poem got sent through the mail to the scholarship committee from a high school student that couldn’t wait until next year to enter. So they read it and saved it so they could put it into the bucket. The poem was entitled, ”Wild Roses.” They all loved it and felt like it could win something when the time came. It started out saying, ”You went where the wild roses go. They are so beautiful from a distance. This is where you should have stayed and fought their sweet fragrance with resistance. In the end, your skin was pricked and blood ran. Reality sat in. The rose’s beauty made you an outcast. Rose vines continue to grow across the minds of men hoping to ensnare more unwary travelers.
At the Belmont Christmas tree lighting, there were many reporters and speakers. Pastor Tom Snell was on hand and read the latest poem that had been taped to the memorial wall. He said he liked the poem so well that he might use it in his sermons sometime. As usual, the poem was anonymous. This is the poem entitled His Word: His word is like a beacon, that shines in the night. His word guides me onward, with the brightness of a light. His word continually beckons, to show others the way, and we know He watches over us at work and at play. This was truly the time to say, ”Rejoice”!