I grew up in a Christian home. My dad was a youth pastor in my youngest years, while my mom worked for a non-profit focused on early childhood education.
I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood. We lived in a small, rural farming community next to the church where my dad worked. It was an old, two-story house. It had a lovely, if rotting, swing on the large porch surrounded by unwieldy bushes with those tiny red berries that are probably poisonous – or at least that’s what I remember thinking as a boy. To this day I hate those bushes. And am still suspicious about the poison…
My older brother and I would do little boy things, exploring and letting our imaginations run wild. Our dad served in the military before I was born. He had a number of souvenirs from his service – an old gun in the dungeon of a basement; a rugged, green canvas bag out in the garage that carried all of his softball gear (how fun it was to watch him play!). We loved to explore that rickety garage, with beams broken and white paint chips falling like dandruff from the walls. One day, we came across a big spool of rope from his military days. Immediately we put it to good use – if used in concert with a fraying tow rope – the kind with the heavy metal hook on the end – we could use it to climb the towering wall at the church. It was easily as dangerous as Fezzik’s climb in The Princess Bride. Like Fezzik, we had to escape those chasing us.
I suppose the one-story fall wouldn’t have hurt too much. And those chasing us were in our minds. And those chasing us were in our minds…
We would stare at the old abandoned railroad tracks behind the church and wonder what the gang members were plotting – but weren’t brave enough to ever go up and see what was really going on. We’d play with our neighbor across the street as his 7’1” dad hunched over a toy-mower to keep his lawn trimmed, or visit the old Stephens couple a few houses down and look through old Sears-Roebuck catalogues dreaming of what we’d get for Christmas before devouring a cookie and helping take out the trash.
Fond memories, but relatively few.
In second grade I learned about a girl in my class who had multiple sets of parents – ‘step’ parents and a ‘step’ brother. It was confusing. It seemed messy.
Another memory, this time quite vivid. I distinctly remember laying in the bottom bunk of the bunk bed I shared with my older brother. Staring at the wood slats, so neat and evenly spaced. Orderly. Ordered as it should be, I thought – something I could make sense of. That was my family – safe. The vivid thought: that would never happen to me.
Until next time,