On rainy days, a Raisin Bran box becomes a city skyscraper and Quaker Oats container a covered bridge. Narrow strips of construction paper, crayon marks down the middle, provide roadways Hot Wheels travel between city and country. Scissors, glue, and all kinds of recycled scraps fuel my imagination as the family room turns into super highways that take me anywhere I can imagine in uptown style.
The porch of my childhood home, with the stormy backdrop on the other side of the screen, transforms into Robinhood’s forest. Paper towel tubes are tree trunks and pieces of green construction paper stuck in the top of tubes become a dense canopy under which the band of plastic two-inch Merry Men battle–– where good always wins and time moves at a fast pace.
Lincoln Log buildings and Tinker Toy wagons in the outlying towns come alive to one side of the play area. Mom’s leftover yarn provides vines for the good guys to swoop down on the bad as the clouds gather and the wind blows rain through the porch’s screen.
I feel one with the heroes in Sherwood battling the elements as well as the sheriff’s goons.
Thunder and lightning-filled afternoons find me on the top bunk with piles of picture books as I look out the window to see the pretend world of Miss Lollipop’s Lion or Lyle the Crocodile. Mom seemed to forecast stay-inside days with total accuracy, and we visited the library a couple days before the clouds gathered. Books capture my mind’s eye, and the blurry window streaming with rain droplets transports me like a Walt Disney camera capturing the fanciful from one world into another. I look at the pictures on the page, then out through the window I see lions and crocodiles move past me wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas, splashing in the puddles, obviously having the time of their lives in the wild world of my Laredo, Texas neighborhood.
On one tempest-tossed evening, my military Dad came home with a huge cardboard box. He took out his pocket knife and scored the cardboard where I directed. Later, with scissors in hand, I built a Jeep like the ones on the air base where Dad served. Mom supervised magic marker sessions that turned the box into my super-charged, Jimmy-sized ride to speed away. My Frisbee made an ideal steering wheel and a long Lego lever was perfect to shift into high gear, my body twisting as I took the curves along the road beyond the cutout windshield. I parked my Jeep in front of the television like I was at a drive-in movie to watch the evening programs on CBS––traveling to the city with Oliver from Green Acres or following railroad tracks with Uncle Joe at Petticoat Junction.
When the sun returned, I was ready to explore outside. More adventures could begin under blue skies, too.
It is the same now. My heart is gladdened by the sun because of a preceding storm. I give thanks for the rain that floods the earth for a time so that life can spring forth. I remind myself that everything has its season, and our God does not change. As the clouds gather in our human days, let us be diligent about our tasks that we may join the cloud of witnesses who have gone before, declaring “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:18 NIV).
Homeword is written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor