The only thing more fleeting than summer is childhood -Unknown
What do you think of when you think of childhood? Somehow in the art gallery of my mind- summer and childhood pull up the same scenes… Carefree days of running barefoot in our yard chasing butterflies and looking for praying mantis… Watermelon juice running everywhere as we tried to see who could spit the seeds the farthest… Spending hours and hours roaming over the mountain discovering different forms of wild life- birds and animals and flowers- feeling confident that no one had been there before we were… Searching through the grass for four leaf clovers and then rolling onto our backs and watching the white fluffy clouds sailing on the blue sky… Showing up just in time for supper and Mother commenting “look- girls-at how much of this meal we grew ourselves..” Family devotions before we called it a day, and with a kiss and an “I love you” from both of my parents- I’d head up our curved stairway to our room… And all was at peace in the world. Those were good days. It wasn’t all play. We spent hours in the garden or on that old Snapper mower that maxed out at about 2.5 mph. We HAD to wash dishes sometimes and I was pretty sure that was the worst job ever. We learned to spend time in the field helping with harvest several years before we were teens. And while I had big dreams of the world changer that I was gonna become- I loved my life. A normal childhood.
Or so I thought.
Really what is a normal childhood?
This year, we- again- are a Fresh Air Host Family and I am looking at my word pictures through a city kids eyes… Barefoot in grass? Never. Spitting seeds everywhere? Somebody’s bound to get chewed out. Wild life? Well, there are rumors of coyotes in the one graveyard in the City… Four leaf clover searches? Really- you must stay off the grass. Both parents at home at night? Riiiiight… Responsibility? Sure- my mom works from 7a-11p just trying to make ends meet. So I’ve done my own laundry for forever. I make my own meals. I get myself off to school. I take care of myself when I’m home from school… It’s just how it goes…
And so- for a brief 10 days each year- we have a chance to introduce our version of normal. Karen has visited us for 6 consecutive years and as she gets older- our activities have changed from blowing bubbles and catching frogs to shopping trips and sushi parties (I’d never had sushi before- pretty sure this won’t be something I crave..) But the campfires continue. And Mother goes the second mile to make sure there’s plenty of good food around.
And we talk. Karen’s neighborhood is in the process of gentrification and she is concerned what will happen to them when their rent price goes higher than $1300/mo. She continues to aspire with her art talent, and she is preparing a portfolio of her artwork hoping to get into her choice of an upscale art college. She changed her hair color to purple and likes that. Lots of people have blue- but purple is original. And she had to get rid of her dog because her allergies went crazy…
As we chat- my world perspectives gets a little bit larger. I realize again how blessed I am and how much I take for granted. As Mother wisely stated “We thought when we became a host family- we were going to make a huge different for some inner city child. But instead the greater blessing has been ours as we learned to navigate the waters of racism, social prejudices, peer pressure, and basic human needs from another viewpoint. We’ve been forever changed by what we learned from our NYC guests ..”
Because really- it’s not just summer and childhood, life is fleeting. It’s up to us to make the most of every opportunity to share the love of Christ.
Blessing to you as you apply that to your mission field,
Several of my favorite pics from our last little while:
the random cross cultural experience of the week happened when a native from nothern Irag brought us bread that he had made from the wheat we were combining beside his house. He took me in to meet his family and show me the entire process. And sent me home with an entire bagful of the fresh flat bread. What a treat!
the fishing adventure- Karen caught one of the only catches of the eve (and Benilli thought she needed to be involved with the cleaning- silly dog)
an landscape sketching session with two very talented ladies-and I shake my head- this is not my gift. at. all.
And last but not least- Karen and her coach made a beautiful table runner this week 🙂
P.S special credit to Marj’s adorable children for so delightfully chasing bubbles in the first pics on this post 😉
“Normal is just a setting on your dryer” I enjoyed reading of your normal though. Blessings on your week.