A line had been drawn in the sand. As dramatic as that sounds, the line was simply a piece of pink yarn leftover from one of my mother’s knitting projects taped to the bedroom floor. My sister and I shared a room, but we did not share the same sense of tidiness.
We had been arguing incessantly and somehow that got on our mom’s last nerve. She refused to give me up for adoption as suggested by my sister, but simply said, “Figure it out.” Relieved that I would remain in the family, I agreed with my sister that yarn would be the answer to settling our dispute.
Somewhere towards evening, after arguing over where the center of the room was, how frequently to place a piece of tape, how big of a piece of tape to use, and whether we should use two strands of yarn or one, a pink, fuzzy line was finally established.
Since my sister was older, she decided on the completion of the sentence, “If one of us crosses the line, then . . ..” She was so smart! I had not even thought about consequences for crossing the line; in fact, I had not even considered that one of us would dare step across the official pink yarn.
Unfortunately, the day came when I realized that my favorite Barbie doll’s dress was on the other side of the line. After staring at the yarn for several seconds and listening for my sister’s footsteps, I decided the line had to be crossed. She appeared, looming in the doorway, just as I was stepping back into my own territory. Soon, I was living out the consequences of my trespassing by doing her chores, preparing her a snack, delivering the snack, doing her bidding, and calling her “Your Highness” for an entire day.
Somehow, my recollection of this childhood event made me think of Julius Caesar. I bet that as you read my anecdote, Julius Caesar popped into your head too!
And now we are all remembering that over two thousand years earlier, he had stood with his huge army at the edge of the Rubicon River, the Romans’ version of pink yarn taped to the floor. I was not in the committee meeting when the Rubicon River became the boundary where a commander had to disband his army before proceeding towards the city, but I’m thinking it was a good idea. They had to do something to avoid being invaded and once again taken over by a tyrant like Sulla. He had been absolutely terrifying and no fun as a ruler.
For varying reasons and at different times in history, both Caesar and I had decided to cross the line.
I needed Barbie’s evening dress; Caesar was compelled to safely return to Rome and take his rightful place in the Senate after conquering most of Gaul (modern-day France).
I had stepped over without fanfare; Caesar had supposedly yelled, “Let the dice fly!” (Pretty classy, don’t you think?)
I was my sister’s servant for a day; Caesar ended up left for dead on the Senate floor after suffering 35 daggers plunged into his body.*
I’m sure glad my Barbie’s evening gown wasn’t on the other side of the Rubicon!
These days, I think so many lines are being drawn in the sand that we have nowhere to move, grow, or unite as a nation. It’s time to cross the lines drawn by transient emotions, self-pride, inflated ego, ignorance, or ephemeral reasoning and etch in stone those lines anchored in timeless truths, morals, and compassion for others.
An ocean wave shifts the sandy shore but cannot move an anchored ship.
In this advent season, let us remember that baby Jesus brought hope to the world and “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19a)
*The assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC,” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2004).