Hang A White Sheet

 

There was a young man a few years ago, a runaway, who found himself looking for a sign. He wanted a sign that would show him that someone loved him. He was an independent sort of fellow. He found that as he lived with his loving parents that rebellion was growing in his heart. He didn't want to put up with the restrictions they placed on him. He didn't like the way they always seemed to interfere in his affairs. Finally, one night, he decided he had had enough. He walked out.

He didn't allow himself to think of the agony he would be leaving behind him in the hearts of his parents. He was determined to have a good time. He found a job and life seemed to be going well. He had plenty of friends and no one to interfere.

After a while, however, life in the fast lane began to seem empty. He was unable to suppress the thoughts of his parents. They began to seem more and more dear to him. He wondered how they were faring and tried to imagine what they thought about him. He could picture his father's furrowed brow and almost hear his strong voice. He imagined a disapproving look on his mother's face. "They will probably never want to see me again," he thought.

Thoughts of home came more and more frequently until he finally decided to write a letter and see if they cared to see him again or not. Soon after writing the letter the young man boarded a train. The destination was home. He was dreadfully nervous. As he rode, he clenched and unclenched his fists. His jaw worked nervously. His stomach seemed to be tied in a knot. On the train he found himself seated by an elderly gentleman.

The older man noted the nervousness of the young man seated beside him and finally struck up a conversation with him. Before long he had heard the whole story. The young man ended with, "I don't know if they'll ever want me back again after the way I have treated them. I can hardly stand to find out the answer."

As the train rounded a bend in the tracks, the young man suddenly stiffened. "Please, sir," he said. "My home is just around the next bend. It's right by the tracks. I wrote to my folks and told them I'd be riding by today, and that if they wanted me back to put something white in the yard. If they didn't, I would know that I should just ride on by and never trouble them again. I just can't bear to look. Please, sir, would you look for me?" The man readily agreed.

Suddenly his excited voice broke into the rhythmical clicking of the tracks. "Look! boy, look!" he nearly yelled.

The boy lifted his head. Tears sprang to his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. Every white thing in the house must have been out in that yard. The clothesline, the bushes, the trees were draped with white sheets. Snow could have done little more!

Those two parents would not have let anything stop them from showing their long lost son the sign of allegiance and love he had requested. Never did they question what the neighbors would think. It didn't matter if people thought they had lost their minds. What a reunion that must have been!

Those parents had to decide whether or not to utilize their son's choice of what the sign would be. At any other time, white sheets in the yard would have been of no value, but because he had requested it, it was meaningful. The message the son had given essentially was, "If you love me, hang out a white sheet."