‘In Him you are being built together, creating a sacred dwelling place among you where God can live in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22).
Summertime. I remember the hellishly hot Phoenix summers growing up. We had a bunch of kids on our street. We would chase each other through the sprinklers. Slip-n-slide on our driveway (before the official ‘Slip-n-Slide’ was developed and sold) by letting a hose drench the concrete. When the ice cream truck sounded its familiar music, we’d run inside for our nickels, dimes, and rare quarters to get a fudegsicle, an ice cream sandwich, or a bomb pop. Tammy and I would climb their mulberry tree and pretend a flood was rising and we lived like the Swiss Family Robinsons. We’d play Mother May I and Red Light/Green Light until our mothers called us in for dinner. After dinner, when the sun finally stopped beating down and the temperatures dropped to under 110 degrees, we’d play Ghost in the Graveyard … until our mothers called us in for bed. Being the youngest on the street, I usually got called in first. And was never happy about that!
When the monsoons would come up from Mexico, we’d relish the pouring rain that would refresh some of the intensity of the heat. After the rains, when water would still rush down the street gutters, we’d ‘race’ popsicle sticks down the rapids. We saved our popsicle sticks from the ice cream truck treats to make ‘A-bombs’ and ‘H-bombs’ (because it was the 1970s. I don’t think any of us thought about the political or historical implications of our popsicle stick ‘bombs’)–weaving the sticks together and then throwing them at each other, watching them ‘explode’ on the driveways and sidewalks.
We didn’t know it; but we were a community. When Dougie’s and Teddy’s parents divorced and they moved out of the neighborhood, our community ended. Dougie was the visionary and leader of the street. He organized all the games and activities. The last activity was the night before they left, all of us got a white t-shirt (probably one from our fathers’ undershirt piles) and a Sharpie. We congregated out in the street to sign each other’s shirts to commemorate our passing childhood. We knew things would never be the same.
Community seems elusive as we grow older. Looking back, I see how much I took for granted in childhood, adolescence and college years. Group cohesiveness in microcosmic worlds of school, youth groups and activities came naturally. Even as a mom with young children, I found others like me duking it out in the trenches, and we created community fairly easily. It’s harder now that Jud and I are entering our 50s (okay, just gotta give an aside: JUD is 50, I’M only 49). I long for the days when we had a group of people to intimately worship God and passion to live out His life in our towns. I’ve grown weary trying to find that community within church walls.
And I think that’s my problem. I’ve focused on church walls.
I know that church-the-building isn’t Church-the-Bride, as I wrote last week. But those lines get blurred. I’ve relied too much on finding Church-the-Bride in church-the-building. And it scares me to think that I may have to go outside the building to find the Bride of Christ … because I’ve been in the building 49 years. I want to reconnect with people where together we become a sacred space where God dwells. I need some time to reflect and remember what it’s like to splash around after a rainstorm in the puddles of the presence of God.
So, this summer, I’m taking some time off. I’m unplugging for 6 weeks from the internet, blogging and church-the-building life. I need to remember the carefree summer days full of laughter and sport, full of friends and play, full of popsicles and imagination, full of sun-soaked skin and cool sheets at the end of the day. I’ll be checking email and in on Facebook from time to time because I still have a part-time job that involves those venues; however, I won’t be posting much.
I encourage all of you to enjoy your summer and rekindle some of the child-like (and -ish) mentality you used to have. Remember to play … laugh … and dream!
I’ll see you in August!
I’d love to hear from you! How do you unplug? What do you want to recapture from childhood summers?