If You're Looking for a Sign, This Is It
By Amy Groening

Back in November, I had the opportunity to visit my friend, Serena, who recently moved to Edmonton. She asked me if there was anything specific I wanted to see or do, as this was my first time in the city. There was a Christian bookstore in the West Edmonton Mall I wanted to visit.

Many of our authors had launched books or held signings there, and I was looking forward to finally being able to set foot in it. She asked what the bookstore was called.

“The Fig Tree?! It’s a sign!”

Serena had spent the last few weeks in a turmoil, struggling to figure out which path her life should take. During her soul-searching time, she’d kept coming back to an analogy she’d read in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Plath sees each possible path her life could take as a juicy fig on a tree:

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

Serena had been racing to find her “fig”, and here, suddenly, was the answer: a bookstore, of course!

Now, I’m a fairly skeptical person. While I’ll acknowledge there’s always the possibility of finding guidance in a bookstore, I approached the idea of really discovering Serena’s life purpose in the middle of a shopping mall with more than a few grains of salt. It was a funny coincidence that her purpose-seeking mantra coincided with the name of the bookstore, but was it really a sign? Officially (in my mind, at least), our main purpose there was for me to visit the birthplace of several authors’ book babies; if she happened to pick up some clarity along the way, it would be a wonderful perk.

We arrived at the bookstore in the afternoon. It was a wonderful day for book seeking; snowy and cold outside, toasty and warm inside. At the front of the store was an artist working on his latest Christ-inspired painting; already-completed paintings lined the walls, waiting to be taken home and hung with loving care. Readers drifted between shelves, browsing for books and gift ideas—Christmas was just a few weeks away, after all! I never get tired of seeing our authors’ names on bookstore shelves, and as we made our way through the store I excitedly pointed out one after another of the book covers I had seen come off the press.

Then, suddenly, we saw The Sign:

Obviously this is not a photo of the sign we found. This is a recreation of it. For some reason I didn’t think to take a picture of it until I was on my way back to Winnipeg. The message is the same: If you’re looking for a sign, this is it! The only difference is, the sign we found was arranged on wooden slats, and one of those slats was kind of arrow-shaped. We followed the arrow. And it pointed us along the wall, to a book titled All the Places to Go…How Will You Know? by John Ortberg.

Somewhere in the pages of that book, Serena was inspired to take the next step in her life’s journey.

And so, the next time you’re feeling lost, and unsure of where to turn, try taking a trip to your local Christian bookstore! You never know what treasures it may hold.

About this Contributor:

Amy Groening is a former project manager and current guest blogger for Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cat committing random acts of feline crime.

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