Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mixed Signals

PREFACE: I totally get that this might not make sense to some -- maybe even many. That's OK, because I wrote it as it came - - both from & for my Audience of One.

Escalate: to increase in extent, volume, number, amount, intensity, or scope

Escalator: a power-driven set of stairs arranged like an endless belt that ascend or descend continuously; an upward course.

Mother used to work for a department store, Rhodes Brothers. It was a classy place, much as Nordstrom is today. From the moment you'd enter their massive revolving doors the smells alone announced something grand: the aromas of fine cologne mixed with equally fine chocolate, topped with a layer of leather. Nothing equaled it.

What great fun it was to visit her. She'd often buy me lunch in their dining room, where we big girls were served as royalty.

Sometimes we'd stop by the candy department to select a savory treasure. I'm not certain which I enjoyed more: the candy or the little tissue bag that was all mine until I'd savored it's contents into extinction.

But it was the escalator - above all - that captivated me. I'm certain it was among the first of my life adventures now that I recall the sheer terror it represented from a child's perspective.

Fear gripped me when I'd consider how all those moving parts could, most likely, devour me should I place my foot or hand in the wrong place. How brave was I to face down those fears (all the while gripped firmly & securely in mother's hand); and how exhilarating the climb as we advanced higher and higher; doing it all over again as we'd make our way, floor-after-floor, until we reached the pinnacle - the fourth floor - where mother had her office.

We escalated. It was on purpose.

Having gone up the escalator, we'd likewise descend via the same people-moving mechanism. It never occurred to me to refer to the going-down maneuver as de-escalating, but that's exactly what it was. Even so, the term escalator was applied to both. Huh?

I heard the term "to escalate" just the other day; on the news. It was probably associated with war, or some Congressional dispute, or Iran's reckless determination. I made a mental note, just as I envisioned my escalator-riding days of old:

Words and actions are escalators too.

On the one hand they advance upwards; on the other, downwards. In either case, we often call them the same thing. They are not.

That's not to say that descending is bad, in and of itself. Afterall, gravity is a good thing; so too are ladders and roller coasters. It is to say that it's not at all the same thing as ascending.

I remember hearing a song by the group Truth long ago. Titled Living Life Upside-Down, the chorus is all about the business of escalation (or is it de-escalation?).

It comes to mind today as I consider just how the upward and the downward have exchanged places on so many levels. Many of the things that are truly upward & uplifting are spoken of as downward; and an even greater number of things that are downward & degrading (if not altogether dangerous) are spoken of as upward.

The ride/slide down has become synonymous with the ride to higher realms - as if they're the same thing. They are not.

What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of the well

Thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain

What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell

Thinking we’re heaven bound

What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves

When we should have been thinking of each other

What if we reach up and touch the ground

To find we’re living life upside down

See, a king will reign in righteousness
and rulers will rule with justice.
No longer will the fool be called noble
nor the scoundrel be highly respected.
the noble man makes noble plans,
and by noble deeds he stands
(or rides UP the escalator).

Isaiah 32: 1, 5, 8

Since I have yet to master the art of uploading video as a direct embed, you can hear the song, Living Life Upside Down, by clicking here.


Yolanda said...

Makes me think of living the "Red Letter" faith of God's word.

Love to you,

Andrea said...

AMEN! Words are powerful. I wonder how often my words have harmed someone else. I pray my words will lift up, but I am not naive. I know there are times they must cut like a knife.

Thank you for reminding me to re-evaluate my own thoughts, words, and actions.

Blessings, andrea

Rose said...

Good one here Kathleen! I find myself lately, replaying the words I say over in my mind, trying to take "all thoughts captive" and words before I just let the tumble out of my mouth without a thought. We Christians forget at times how much power there is in the spoken word for good or evil. Thanks for the reminder!

KelliGirl said...

I can see the sights, smell the aromas and feel the excitement of your visits to the department store. What a precious memory. Have you ever considered writing a children's book on these experiences?

What a great point you make...about living upside down. The lyrics to the song are so poignant. I'm going to go listen to the song right now.


~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

Maybe this post wasn't meant for me today!?!? I doesn't really resonate with me. No matter, it's a great post! Thanks for sharing.

RCUBEs said...

Before going to work, I always ask the Lord to guard my mouth, knowing that profanities and words that put others down are rampant there. It's so easy to get tangled but being a child of God, we must have renewal in our minds and heart. And because Christ is the antithesis of this society, I know that I don't need to go with the "flow" for the world's going up is opposite from what Christ tells me. Thank you for this nugget sister. I always leave your site satiated! God bless you and protect you always!

Heart2Heart said...


I was completely taken in by this post and as a child, it never dawned on me just how afraid of escalators children can be until they take the hand of someone they trust, look up instead of down and see smiles from that simple act of trust.

I agree with you that these also are the same if you put them in reverse order and in that case distrust ensues as well! Great post!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Denise said...

Another wonderful post.

Brenda Leyland said...

What fun to think about your childhood memories with your mom in that beautiful department store.

And I enjoyed your ponderings of 'up and down'...that exchange of up and down could sometimes be what the Word has described as that calling good 'evil' and evil 'good'.


Karen Lange said...

Great post! Love the comparison and everything. Your story about going to see your mother was interesting; it reminded me of going to departments stores with my mom and grandmother.

Rita said...

What precious memories you have of visiting with your mom! I always thought it such fun to ride the escalators when I was young. When our mom's took our hands, we felt safe. So do we feel safe if we put our hands in the Master's Hand!

Beth E. said...

Another great post! We either speak life or death with our tongue...the decision is ours.

I don't know about gravity always being a good thing, though, Sassy...there are certain parts of my body (rhymes with 'tubes') that definitely disagree with that statement! ;-)


Deborah Ann said...

What a great analogy the escalator is! My son once rode one, and got his foot caught. He was wearing sandals too, so his toes got cut up a bit.

I will always think of this up and down machine in a spiritual sense now...

christy rose said...

Loved this Kathleen! what great analogies!

I have yet to mast the art of uploading video as a direct embed too. I had to go the youtube way to figure out how to do it. Even then that was not easy for me. LOL

Sheryl said...

"funny" i missed this yesterday. guess God knew what He was doing. my words got me in heaps of trouble yesterday. almost cost me one of the most important relationships in my life.

the next couple of days are ones that could bring huge healing to the lives of my kids and their dad IF i let God choose my words and actions. i've been praying today that God would set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips.

thanks so much for sharing your heart. sure do love ya!