This is a made-to-order Autumn day, perfect! The wind has been blowing all night long and is still at it, as if it's trying to sweep everything clean, trying to usher in something new. To be outside on a day like this, for me at least, is to experience joy.
Also, for some reason,days like this bring to mind memories from my childhood. As I've been reminiscing, it suddenly hit me - wow, did I ever grow up in a politically incorrect world:) Some of my fondest memories are of us kids standing around in flip flops (or more likely barefoot) pretend smoking candy "cigarettes". None of the adults recoiled in horror at the thought of us becoming real smokers later on. In fact, my grandparents supplied the candy - largely because I couldn't pretend "smoke" and talk at the same time. Not only that but there were a few days when my grandmother encouraged me to try to balance two at once in my mouth, if that tells you anything... But none of us ever grew up to become smokers as teens or young adults.
And I got spankings. Not a lot but certainly more than one. Mostly after Sunday evening services and that's probably because my parents occasionally let me sit with my older siblings and they couldn't really handle me. I remember one spanking in particular - not the pain of it because my parents never spanked me hard enough to do anything other than bruise my ego - but the lecture that I got before justice was dispensed. I know it's commonly quoted that if you spank a child, you just teach them to hit others. But that's not what I got out of it. I learned new words, actually. Words like "lenient" as in, "Catherine Elizabeth, I've been too lenient with you..." (I had to wait until after my spanking to go ask my sister what that meant:) And I learned that it's a huge mistake to act up in church and then turn around and wave at my parents, refusing to quit until they wave back... I think in the annals of justice, that's known as a compound felony... I guess modern theorists would speculate that such experiences would turn me off of church forever. But I'm almost sixty and love church just as much now as I ever did. (But without the acting up during worship times... Ha!)
Finally, I remember eating "dinner on the ground." Once a year my grandmother's rural church observed "Decoration Day," where adults gathered from far and near to decorate family graves while the women of the church set up pot luck dishes on long trestle tables, covered with sheets. And that's where we ate - right there in the cemetery. (With no Germ-X in plastic bottles, either!) After the meal, the adults sat around in lawn chairs visiting while the kids played hide and seek among the tombstones. Ever so often, the moms would warn one or more of their offspring, "Mind your manners and don't be running across the graves!!! Go around them or, by George, you'll wish you had by the time I get through with you!!!'' And I learned from that experience also - to this day, when I go to a cemetery for a funeral, I'm careful to step around the graves as best I can.
Time has a way of painting memories with a rosier (or darker) hue than they originally had. When I look back at those days, they seem fairly carefree. Back then I didn't know that candy cigarettes could make me want to smoke so.. I just never smoked. And I didn't know that a swat on the behind could be called abuse or that cemeteries were solemn places for funerals only.
I just knew that life was somewhat earthy; that good-weather days were meant for hanging out with cousins, friends, and siblings where we divided our time equally between getting along and fighting with each other (without the benefit of anger management classes); that church was for being good and that adults had boundaries which needed to be learned and respected. And that death was just a natural part of life. Something serious, to be sure, but not necessarily to be feared.
Today Autumn winds are sweeping across our yard, stirring up not just leaves but also memories.
And for that, I'm thankful...
Pray without ceasing
In everything give thanks...
I Thessalonians 5:16-18