Saturday, May 10, 2014
"The Long Summer of Childhood"
When I was a young child summer always arrived sometime around the first week in June. The date didn't matter; the beginning of summer was always the last day of school. Like youthful heathens, we ran home, discarded all thoughts of subjective clauses, pronouns or fractions, as well as our shoes, and stomped around barefoot in the emerald fields of green. We would tromp around and delight in the grass and moist earth squishing through the spaces between our toes, our winter-tender feet sensitive to every undulation beneath us. By summer's end, the leather-tough feet, splayed flat from running barefoot over the dusty baseball fields, from hop-scotching our way across the scorching fresh tar of a newly-paved avenue, would rebel at the effort to cram them into the confines of hard leather school shoes.
But the rites must be honored. All adult efforts to civilize us, with rigors and rules of classroom, with the lumpy morning oatmeal, now fall by the wayside. After nine months of subjective compliance it is time for the season of exploration, of chasing birds from tree to tree, of three-person baseball games, of marble marathons, of climbing trees, of the sweet taste on the tongue of the pilfered fruit, of building forts from cardboard boxes...of unregulated and spontaneous joy at being a child.
And, despite the frightfully long days of summer, there is never enough time to do all that we could. We children had such a thirst for life, and for discovery, that no day and no season was enough to quench it. Called home for supper, we would devour our meal, hurrying to be done with it for the sirens of the evening were calling to us on the evening breeze. Hide and Seek and Red Light, Green Light and Mother May I were the joyous games to be spun out until our mothers and fathers called us home for the obligatory bath and the night rest of the joyous innocent.
It is that age of innocence that our God grants us for a far too small space in time. "I pray the lord my soul to keep" were our prayers as we drifted off to sleep beneath starry skies that promised us night dreams of castles and cowboy boots and ice cream cones and joyous runs through the green fields of summer.
Do you remember? All through the dreary months of winter we dreamed of summer. It always promised to come soon. Never as soon as we wished. But, upon arrival, it was truly endless! Our joy was so complete, our days so filled with wonder, that we were always shocked when September rolled around.
School? Shoes? Starched collars? Big Chief Writing Tablets? The smell of a freshly sharpened number 2 pencil? "Barbaric!", we cried, even as our parents began the seasonal task of taming the "summer heathens".
May all of you be blessed with the rich memories of childhood. As you dwell in the "winters" of your lives may the joyful memories of the long childhood summers keep you warm....and grateful of God's magnificent season of joy.