Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
For me, this essential poem by Shel Silverstein has always been about beginnings, about possibilities. It’s not so much that the sidewalk ends, that a childhood marker of safety and play yields to the less predictable, less secure street of constant motion, to the culture of speed and uncertainty; it’s not that we must surrender childhood innocence at a border checkpoint, that we must leave behind the days when we walked down streets trying to avoid all the cracks, when we marveled at the indistinction between flowers and weeds, when inside a weeping willow was an enchanted forest and a puddle of water an ocean bridging unknown worlds; it’s not that we must say good-bye or even hell-o to friends, spaces or opportunities; it’s not even that two roads diverged in a wood and we were asked to choose. It’s rather a call, an invitation to watch where the chalk-white arrows go. But don’t ask me: ask one who knows… “For the children they mark, and the children they know, the place where the sidewalk ends.”
Thank you for three wonderful years as Director of Religious Education: may we follow our chalk-white arrows and hope together for many more years of something else.