I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Santa Rosa area of California for a variety of reasons. My wife Regina’s folks live in the city. The surrounding area is once again suffering from devastating wildfires. And Santa Rosa was the home of Regina’s great uncle Wallace who recently died at age 99. For years, Wallace lived directly across the street from the Charles Schulz Museum. Charles lived in the area and the museum is dedicated to all things Charlie Brown.
Many people over the years have written about the philosophy, theology, and life principles to be garnered from the comic strip. I must say, I remain a big fan of a wide variety of stories, from Charlie Brown repeatedly failing at kicking a football because Lucy lifts it up at the last minute, to Linus and his dependence upon a blanket, to the Great Pumpkin Halloween story, to name just a few.
My life has been enriched by the characters of Pig Pen and his filth, Snoopy, Woodstock, Sally, Schroeder, and Peppermint Patty along with others. Indeed, there is a little of each one of us to be found in each one of them.
On one of my visits to the museum, I encountered an impactful collection. Charles used to sketch out ideas for his comic strip on lined yellow sheets of paper. When an idea was more formalized or he did not particularly like the way a concept was going, he crumpled up the yellow sheets and tossed them into the trash.
He did not know that his secretary at the time, retrieved the crumpled sheets, took them home, and then ironed and saved them. These ironed sketches are now on display and they remind me of something helpful to keep in mind these days. But before that, one more snippet.
In one Peanut’s strip, Snoopy is lying on top of his dog house. Snoopy has the following thoughts as he gazes skyward. “My life has no meaning. Everything seems empty. I search the skies but can’t find meaning. Sigh.” It is at this point in the strip that Charlie Brown arrives with a bowl of dog food. Snoopy’s next thought, “Ah. Meaning.”
A thrown away piece of paper collected by Charles’ secretary. A bowl full of dog food brought by a beloved friend. Perhaps the point is that sometimes great meaning is found in the small things in life we take for granted or tend not to notice.
Searching for meaning, the purpose of life, why we are here at this time in these circumstances are all essential questions with which to struggle. God has much to say to us as we engage the depth of such issues. That said, I believe there are times throughout each day that joy, delight, gratitude, and even simple fun, are to be found in the small things we dismiss or disregard, like a lined sheet of paper, or a source of nourishment, physical or relational, that perhaps we need to cherish a bit more.