• J. Woken

Journal Entry, July 14: Free the Elephants

You never know what people hear when you talk. You could be going on some long, well thought out diatribe about global warming and all they pick out is that one sentence on how monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles every fall. Forget about the ice caps melting, the polar bears, the whales, and the drowning of New York City. It’s the butterflies they’ll remember.

The same goes with passing mentions of odd little things between friends and strangers. For instance, a woman who plays the drums in my church mentioned in passing a few weeks ago about journaling and how the practice might be construed as a way to commune with God on a deeper level.

I’m a collector of empty notebooks, the kind that are bound with thick, decorative covers and delicately lined pages. I actually have to stop myself from buying them. (Hint: They’ll always be a great gift in my book!) On vacation recently to Nashville, Tennessee, I found myself coveting a shelf full of notebooks of assorted sizes for several long minutes. Some of the notebooks had little (albeit useless) locks on them, some had little brass hinges in place of goopy binding glue… oh, the temptation!

But, I digress. I have (had?) a couple of empty notebooks sitting around my house; others aren’t completely empty, but sit half written in according to their subject designation (one is for song ideas and music writing, another for sketches, etc). One in particular I recently received as a gift from a client with Psalm 118:24 inscribed on the cover and a new verse on the top corner of every right-hand page. So pretty and so inspiring, but I couldn’t figure out what to use it for.

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. — Psalm 118:24

Then this drummer lady mentioned journaling. Hm, I thought. Perhaps I ought to give that a go. So I did: On July 4, 2016, I made my first entry. On July 14, I made my second.

It’s the second entry I wish to share with you today.

Take into consideration that this is edit-free: no erasures, no deletions, just pure, train-of-thought writing, typed out just as it’s written (brackets and all). I hope you enjoy reading it and that it gives you something to think on as you go about your day. And, as you read, consider these questions:

  1. What makes a person an “elephant”?

  2. Are YOU an elephant?

  3. What are the shackles in your life?

(Note: The verses mentioned are the ones listed at the tops of the pages I wrote on. Coincidentally enough, they’re applicable to my entry, though I didn’t plan it that way as you can see by my post script entry.)


A friend loves at all times. — Proverbs 17:17

Something about elephants. A few days ago while driving I had an epiphany but, of course, because I was driving I couldn’t grab a pen and jot it down, if only to remind myself later about the epiphany I had earlier.

But now it’s gone. All I know is it had something to do with elephants. Maybe if I talk (write) about it long enough it’ll occur to me again, an epiphany refreshed. But — yes — something about elephants with shackles on their ankles.

Funny how I can remember exactly where I was on the road when I had said epiphany. I was driving south on Highway 52, just past the farm that once had a herd of cattle but now no more (slaughter, I assume), at the crest of a hill with the anti-abortion sign on the right and the “sweet corn ahead – closed” sign on the left. The crest of the hill that’s lush with grass (no crop this season; a year of rest for the earth there? A sabbath for the soil?) and I looked out over it, pondering all matter of things in my radio-free (by choice, not because of radio malfunction) drive home, when–Ah ha! Enlightenment! But now all I have is “something about elephants with shackles on their ankles.


But the image [of the elephants] reminds me of a lesson in psychology. (I do hope you don’t mind me tracing my thoughts backward.) The lesson, or the story, is that a baby elephant being trained would be shackled and chained to a stake set in the ground. Being a baby, he wouldn’t have the strength to pull it out and this he quickly learned (elephants are smart). As the animal grew, it became settled to the fact that it could not break free of its chain. Then, by the time the creature was full grown — and well beyond reaching strength to pull a mere stake from the ground — it stopped fighting its chains, thoroughly trained and nigh aware it could break free upon a whim (but elephants aren’t that smart).

Arise, shine, for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. — Isaiah 60:1

And something is coming back to me… Something about elephants with shackles on their ankles who don’t realize they could be free.

(P.S. Is it coincidence that the verses quoted on the pages of this entry are applicable to this entry’s content?)

Ponder with me, friends! Leave a comment below. 🙂