July 20, 2015
Last week a group from our church went on a short term mission trip to West Virginia. I point that out only to say that I am TOO TIRED to write any serious, thoughtful, challenging schlock. Can we reminisce just a bit then? I have no idea if any of the things I am about to mention will connect with you. No doubt you have your own thoughts and memories. I recall years ago a dear friend who was actively involved in theater (Hi, Chris F.!!) said something like this to me, “I wish we could hang on to some of our childhood qualities. In particular the ability to go from one extreme emotion to another in a matter of seconds… i.e. laughter to crying… crying to laughter.” I have maintained that quality, I’m afraid, as documented in a previous rumination but there are other things from childhood that I would like to recapture. Maybe the most significant: imagination. A few examples.
My grandparents had one of those big honking couches with the large rounded arms on the ends. It was green, held together with a million brass tacks and was made of some sort of fuzzy material. I vividly recall putting a pillow (saddle) over the end of the couch and riding my “horse” like a mad man. Don’t misunderstand… I was not a little boy sitting on the end of a sofa imagining that I was riding a great steed. I WAS riding a great steed! I was Roy Rogers and John Wayne and Cheyenne Bodie (remember him?) all mixed into one. I could shoot, rope, ride, and fight with the best of them. It’s interesting to note that it only worked with a pillow. No pillow (saddle), meant no horse.
I was also a super hero. Most of the time I was mild mannered Bill Little. Slow, not athletic, not aggressive, not much of anything that would distinguish me from anyone else. BUT… give me a towel and a safety pin and I was transformed into Batman or Superman or any other comic book hero with a cape that I wanted to be. I had super strength, super speed, invincibility, and of course, I could fly. I conquered the worst of the worst villains along with rescuing damsels in distress. Again, this was not about “imagining” I was a super hero… I WAS ONE.
Occasionally my mom would take me to get new tennis shoes. Although I have no data to substantiate the following claim, I know it to be true. New tennis shoes meant one thing – I could run faster than before. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t fast, but it was faster than with my old shoes. Or so I imagined.
My long time friend Tom S. will remember vividly what I am about to describe. Near where we lived there was an isolated, never used, dirt road/path that ran across the top of a wooded hill. The road ended with a small loop. We just called it “the turn around.” In retrospect it was likely from the days when the property was a farm and this was where they deposited all of the junk because there was a pile of debris and tires at the loop. In the center of the circle was… well… nothing really, mostly small trees and weeds, but it could be a club house. Let me say that differently. IT WAS A CLUB HOUSE. Many important world shattering decisions were made in that place! If we had known about the Cuban Missile Crisis it would have been solved at the “turn around” along with the rest of the “Cold War.” But when you’re only 5 years old, well… there are some limitations.
One more thing. When I was little I don’t recall “imagining” Jesus. Jesus was real just like anyone or anything else in my world. He wasn’t a “theology.” He didn’t have to be “demystified.” (Look it up) The Bible didn’t have to be “redacted.” (Look it up) There was no such thing as “doubt.” (You don’t have to look that up do you?) Jesus was just real. How I long for that vivid part of childhood.
Honestly? There are things about adulthood that just plain old stink.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.