I am a firm believer in self-fulfilling prophecies. Tell a little boy he is dumb for long enough, and he will begin to believe it. Tell a little girl repeatedly that she is ugly, and she will eventually accept that into her very soul. What we see held up before us like a mirror reflects an image back to us that we become conditioned to believe is the real us.
We have all had figurative mirrors put before us our entire lives. Parents may have held up the mirror that we are lazy or worthless. Teachers may have shown us a mirror that said we are rowdy troublemakers. The preachers’ mirrors may have reflected us as hopelessly sinful. Friends’ mirrors told us we were not pretty enough or not fun to hang around.
I reached a point in my life where I symbolically smashed all of those “old-paths” mirrors put before me and chose to believe another reflection. My choice, as a Christian, was the Word of God and what the Scriptures say I am—the beloved of the Father, the righteousness of Christ, a new creation in Him. Regardless of your belief system, when you take away a negative, it is important to replace it with a positive.
As a Walnut Cove native, I have long seen negative mirrors held up before my hometown. “Oh, you’re from Walnut Cove?” said with a sneer made me feel embarrassed. “Walnut Cove!” was often exclaimed in a disgusted tone that sounded as if they were talking about plague-infested rats.
Many townspeople still spout negativity about the town. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “If that kid wants to be anything, he’ll have to get out of Walnut Cove.” Well, if we continue to promote that attitude, it will continue to be true.
“Walnut Cove’s never going to change.” No, probably not—if the majority continue to espouse that mindset.
I believe that what we speak carries great weight. If I frame my world by my words, then I surely want those words to be positive—full of light and life. Wouldn’t it be great if we all changed the way we speak about Walnut Cove? What a difference it would make if we consciously opted to counter every negative with a positive!
“Walnut Cove is nothing but a dried-up Main Street with deteriorating buildings.”
“Hey, did you hear the Town now has a code enforcer who is going to help improve the dilapidated appearance of downtown? And there is a long-range vision plan for the Town being discussed—some beautiful prospects by the year 2035.”
“Well, currently, Walnut Cove isn’t improving.”
“But did you know there is a Walnut Cove Small Town Main Street (STMS) Committee that meets monthly to plan and carry out positive changes in the Town right now? Maybe you’ve noticed some of the things they do: the lovely planters full of flowers in season on Main Street, the tranquil blue and green ‘Welcome’ banners flying on downtown poles, or perhaps the five new ‘Welcome’ signs at the Town’s portals.”
“Okay, maybe the Town is looking a bit better, but what a boring place it is.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way. You obviously didn’t hear about the now-annual Walnut Cove Springfest each May with live music, arts & crafts/merchandise vendors, nonprofits running food booths, a kids’ area down near the old Dodson Hotel lot, a classic car show at 4th and Main, and more!”
“You can’t improve a town with just a once-a-year fling.”
“Absolutely right! That’s why the STMS group, in conjunction with the Town, hosts an annual Christmas Tree-lighting festival in Fowler Park—free S’mores and hot chocolate/coffee, kids’ activities, Santa available for pictures, the South Stokes High School Band playing seasonal favorites, and more. Great crowd and lots of community fellowship! The week after that, there’s the big Walnut Cove Christmas Parade, put on by the local Masons—Main Street lined with food vendors and one of the most comprehensive parade progressions you’ll see! The next month, Walnut Cove boasts the only MLK Day event in the county—a joyous march and community church service.”
“Yeah, I don’t get out much in winter. Summer seems blah around here.”
“Nonsense! Walnut Cove is now the first to celebrate the Fourth of July with a hugely-attended gathering at Lions Park—food for sale, a terrific band playing and one of the best fireworks displays around. The next month, local churches work together to put on a wonderful ‘back-to-school’ youth rally at Lions Park—free food, t-shirts, Bibles and great entertainment for hours.”
“I guess if I complain about fall, you’ll have an answer for me, too?”
“But of course! There’s a downtown musical event at ‘Just Plain Country’ in early November, complete with outdoor vendors for goods and food. Some years, the STMS group joins in at that time to hold a ‘Back in the Day’ festival at nearby Fowler Park. I’ll bet you would love to see the sheep shearing, blacksmithing, woodworking, Civil War re-enactment, weaving and more while bands play old-time music and groups dance under the picnic shelter. And vendors selling yummy food and useful/decorative wares is a given.”
“Anything regular going on or just these annual special events?”
“Can’t spill the beans yet, but let’s just say the STMS folks are discussing plans to have a downtown area regularly devoted to a farmers market, crafts fairs, musical events and more. Hold on to your hat!”
“Well, maybe there’s hope for Walnut Cove yet.”
“Of course there is! And you can play a role. The STMS Committee would love to have you and other concerned citizens join them every third Thursday at 6:30 p.m.—tonight at Milano’s restaurant. Come speak up at the monthly Town meetings at the Walnut Cove Senior Center the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.”
See how every negative was turned into a positive? Try it—not only with others but with the very words you utter as you drive through Town or discuss it with others. When you throw in the active local sports programs; regular community church events organized by the Walnut Cove Ministerial Association; the efficiency and generosity of East Stokes Outreach Ministry; the many great things done by the various civic groups such as the Lions, the Rotary Club, 4-H clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts and others—well, you have an active Town sprouting good things now and preparing to blossom handsomely in the future.
Before you know it, we’ll even have a community center for our youth. Jump on the “positive declarations” train with me; let’s break those mirrors of negativity and promote a new and positive image for Walnut Cove’s future. Yes, it will take hard work, but it begins with a change in our attitudes and what we speak.
Leslie Bray Brewer can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog is at http://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com.