Lake Merrymeeting

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Some summers we went to New Hampshire to visit my cousins. My memory of those visits has faded. Except for the lake. My aunt and uncle lived on the lake. And for my nine-year old self, nothing else about those visits matter. The lake was what it all was about.

Off the shoreline, maybe 20 yards, was a diving platform. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? It’s one of those square wooden ones maybe the size of throw rug—I’m looking at the one in our dining room. Not very big. You could probably get only about five or six people on the thing. It was sitting on buoys and held fast by ropes or something like that to the floor of the lake. Everyone thought pushing people off was the best entertainment. It often was much like the king of the hill game. Being the smallest and the youngest kid, I was never king.

But in one activity off that platform I had few rivals.

By far the most captivating activity off the platform was diving for chalk. It was a boyhood adventure. Here’s how it went. You’d swim out to the platform, climb up on it, and dive in. You swim to the bottom maybe 6 to 8 feet. On the bottom you felt for clumps of chalk. I was possessed by the work of harvesting chalk.  

The chalk was moist and squishy. Holding your breath for as long as you could, you moved your hand across the surface of the bottom. It was muddy and soft. The water was murky from the agitation. Visibility was zero. Your hand was your guide. Feeling the bottom, your hand would come across a change of texture. With a little more attention, you pulled up a clump of clay-like substance. Chalk. It was white. Being at the limit of my capacity to hold my breath, I would put my feet on mushy bottom and thrust up like superman. Once on the surface I’d throw the wet chalk on the platform and wait for it to dry. I don’t remember what we did with it once it dried. I doesn’t much matter. After taking several deep breaths, the adventure repeated itself time and again all afternoon.

I really don’t know why harvesting chalk was so captivating. But it was. 

The lake was called Lake Merrymeeting. 

 

 

Miracle at St Mary’s?

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We have two dog leashes. My personal favorite is retractable. The kind where the dog can immediately forget they’re on one freely sniffing everything for 18 feet when they are jolted back to the reality of their captivity. I bought the leash on Amazon for $20.

My favorite leash is for large dogs. Holly our 8-month-old Golden qualifies for being large even if she’s a puppy. The leash is heavy duty and its lead is half-inch wide nylon. I am mentioning my leash because Holly and I walk and run a lot. I love it

There’s a park hear our house. It’s St. Mary’s Park. It’s a great park. The park has signage posted around stating if you are caught not picking up your dog’s poo, you’ll be fined. I don’t remember exactly how much the fine is, but it’s not only $50. For me the fear a fine for not cleaning up poo is. . .well. . . intense.

I never used to think about a dog’s poo. Now I think about it daily. So, to avoid a fine one must carry an ingenious invention called a poop bag. I don’t think that’s the official name though.

Now that you have this information, you will better understand why I am tempted to call the event a miracle.

One afternoon – a week or so back – I took Holly on one of our regular walks in St Mary’s park. I did not realize I did not have a poo bag until Holly took her “position.” I did not want to be caught fleeing the scene of the crime so to speak. So, I did what good Christians do. I prayed to Jesus: “Jesus help me! Rain from heaven a poop bag. Please!”

Seriously, all kidding aside, I did pray however foolish or childish. And then it happened. A miracle took place.

Not 30 seconds after I prayed, I see a bag being carried by wind. (I’m not making this up.) The bag was caught up by the wind going up then down left then right. As I’m watching this bag its literally descending. I laugh. It’s crazy, even silly. I was concerned about the rule and I prayed. I’m not about to make a judgment on this being from Jesus or not. My faith is not strong enough to claim anything . But it is funny story. I do wonder how that bag just happened to be in the right place at exactly the right time.

A candy bag.
A candy bag that belonged in the trash
A candy bag that belonged in the trash perfectly shaped for scooping dog poo.
A candy bag that belonged in the trash perfectly shaped for scooping dog poo descending in the breeze.

Manna from heaven?

Gulp and Gobble Jesus

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The kitchen was across the hall from a stairway leading to the sanctuary. Once month it was my favorite place in the church.

Once a month our church celebrated communion. When I came of age, I started taking it. I can’t express how significant communion Sunday became for me.

In our church, the blood of Christ was real grape juice, the kind that came out of a bottle, and was not not the Kool Aid. And the body of Christ was the moistest white bread I have ever tasted. It was cut up into small bit size cubes.

Communion was always at the end of the worship service. The shiny silver communion trays rested on a sturdy wooden table at the front of the sanctuary engraved with “In Remembrance of Me.” The trays’ glimmering dignity was in proportion to their grand contents.

The custom was to hold the two elements in your hand until all were served and the trays returned to the table. The anticipation eating and drinking was palpable. Pastor Hibbard would say words I was unable to hear being so focused on the delicacies. I was clued in enough, however, to hear the most important words “do this in remembrance of me.” Because after he said that I could eat that delicious cube. The process repeated for the cup and the signal was given, I downed the juice.

When the concluding hymn was sung, and the final benediction offered, I bolted out of the pew and down that back stairway to the kitchen where with other boys we drank the juice out of the communion cups as if we were downing shots. And grabbed fist fulls of the bread cubes and squished them together into balls before shoving them in our mouths until all was gone and we were left wanting more.  “Next month!” we would say. It couldn’t come soon enough!

I’m so thankful that my church let me be a boy. They let me gulp and gobble the body and blood of Jesus. They didn’t prohibit boys being boys chowing down with such gusto, joy and mischief the leftovers of the Lord’s Supper.

From my vantage point now as an adult and as a follower of Jesus, I’m convinced Jesus was delighted that his life was so consumed by boys.

 Oh yeah, we were Baptists!