Early pandemic shopping lists included toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, bread, and chalk. At least that’s how it appeared to me. When our neighborhood parks closed down, our sidewalk artists stepped right up.

The earliest chalk walks we came upon were in children’s handprinting and urged us to stay active by doing the usual hopscotch and much more: walk like a zombie, leap like a frog 3x, hop on L foot 5x, follow squiggly lines, walk backwards, and run from the zombie. I would courteously hop a couple of times as requested but would mostly content myself with admiring the creativity.

Days later these action-filled chalk walks were interspersed with messages in adults’ careful, beautiful multi-colored lettering: Take care of each other, We love you, Be safe. I took photos as I chronicled these unusual times: hopscotch and public service announcements mingled on residential sidewalks.

Then came the days with “scattered showers” and heavier rain, and the chalk walks and chalk talks disappeared. Until a week and a half ago, when even in the face of a next-day forecast of those “scattered showers,” we found several colorful, large-lettered messages on the sidewalks close to our home: Be a nice human, May the love you give come back to you, and Love can change the world.

And this one, in the photo above, made me stop still because it asked me to: Stand here and think about someone you love. I did. I thought of more than one someone.

I thought of my beloved husband, faithfully preaching in an empty sanctuary each Sabbath, knowing the livestream will reach his congregation plus other viewers. I thought of that wonderful congregation, participating in the worship service in so many ways and connecting with each other and others to keep the faith strong and provide help where needed. I thought of my dear friend, two thousand miles from me, whose husband has been valiantly fighting a rare and aggressive cancer for ten years.

The chalk only asked me to stand and think, but I did more – I prayed. I think that’s what you would have done, too. From pausing and remembering people you love is, to quote our earlier chalk walks, only a hop, skip, and a jump to then pray for them, to thank the Lord for them.

Maybe that’s why God invites us to “Be still and know that I am God . . .”(Psalm 46:10). We need to pause long enough for the noise and hustle around us to calm down, for the mental clutter to clear away, before we can hear and know what is true: He is God and we are not. He calls us to take care of each other, to think and to love and to pray. He calls us to be Micah 6:8 believers: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

Be encouraged this week as you walk your talk! He is walking with you, all the way home.