I remember laying in the hallway, one nub of a yellow crayon, and a picture of an elephant. My Mom was making dinner and I was coloring. There’s coloring lightly, staying neatly within the lines with nice gentle strokes, and then there’s coloring like there’s no tomorrow, pressing down like it’s the last crayon on earth, the last picture and quite possibly the last two-dimensional elephant on earth. You can probably guess which path I chose. My hand hurt, that elephant didn’t know what hit him after it was over.
I must have been 5 or 6 at that time. Ironically, I only remember a couple of other snapshots from that time: the Evil Knievel wind up motorcycle that sped through the carpeted halls of my first house, my scary closet with the person inside, a very yellow elephant, and falling into the cold creek of Fountain City Park.
I was following my big sister, skillfully hopping from rock to rock, traversing the mighty river (actually, just a tiny creek). Then everything went wrong. I slipped on a tipsy rock and plunged into the icy water. Trying to steady myself and recover meant that the other shoe went in as well. Man overboard. Cold, sopping wet socks and shoes, sidelining me from the adventure with my sister, and the tears came… like a real river. Cue the 8mm movie camera.
We loved to watch home movies as kids. We begged our Dad to set up the tiny screen and projector, flickering snapshots of our past. I remember the smell of the celluloid running through the Kodak projector, the laughs as we watched ourselves from years before, the same “I will kill you” response from my Mom every time the camera was pointed at her and the “flip flip flip” sound the movie made when it was finished. We loved it. We never tired of asking who was who or hearing the stories of how we were at that time of our childhood.
There were a few moments in my short film career that I didn’t like so much. My Dad always seemed to be filming at just the right moment to capture the mayhem. One such incident was the aftermath of the Fountain City Park disaster. I can’t blame him though as I work hard to capture these same moments with my critters only to threaten to put them on Facebook. You know you’ve crossed a line when any time you take a picture of your kids, they cry out: “Don’t put that on Facebook!”, but I digress.
You can see my little frame, bulging belly (still), wet shoes and socks, head on my hands against a tree stump, crying. I am sure my Mom was nowhere near as she would have told him to stop filming and come to my aid. My older sister stands nearby with a look on her face. You know… the look. Any parent with kids who love to mess with each other, who know how to push buttons, who can set off a bomb in their siblings, knows the look. Well, she had it. She nonchalantly moved in, grabbed my face and shoved it toward the camera. You can guess what happened next… angry crying and silent yelling into the 8mm camera that would forever capture my pain.
Recently we sat in my parent’s living room and watched and laughed… again. I realized that I am now the age my grandparents were in some of our earliest films. How can that be? We asked the same old questions, laughed at the parts we knew were coming - especially as we introduced them to our own kids. My kiddos particularly liked the Fountain City Park disaster. This time it was more than nostalgic for me. I laughed but I also felt something deeper.
I looked around the room. Our families, all of us broken and hopeful, sitting around that room with the same hopes and dreams our parents had for us: that we would succeed in life, be free from harm, find best friends that would become our spouses, have critters and realize that Jesus is all we ever need. But life isn’t that simple, is it?
We all wonder if we're doing the right things. Am I following you with my whole heart? Are we talking with our kids about Jesus enough? Have we done all we can to set them on the right path? My guess is we share the same worries our parents and grandparents had as well. Especially as we watch the painfully slow spiritual growth in our own kids. Lord, are you sure you picked the right people for this job?
I like to imagine someday going into the library in heaven and grabbing a box full of old films. I can see Jesus carefully threading the first movie through the projector with a smile on his face. I am sure there will be laughter, plenty of tears, and loads of questions.
The answers will all be there… standing there. Psalm 39 will finally make sense. That our lives were but a breath given by a gracious God who loves us deeply. That our hope is completely in Him or in nothing at all.
Sometimes I feel like all I have contributed to His work in my life is to occasionally look at the camera and stick my tongue out. And yet… that’s the Gospel. While we were dead… Christ died for us.
Eternal memories, captured into heavens archives, pieced together by the Creator himself. Kind of makes you want to lay in the hallway and color for a while.
Has anyone see my yellow crayon?