Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fine and Pleasant Misery

The whistle blows and I feel the jerk of the train as it lunges forward, beginning its rhythmic chug, taking everyone on board to a new destination. I close my eyes, feeling the blast of warm summer air on my cheeks while the pungent smell of clover seeps through the cracked window.

As I doze, I remembered the wonderful camping trip of the week before. Marshmallows oozing from graham crackers drizzled with chocolate. My favorite part was sleeping under the stars...we would all lay there listening to Dad make stories of the old West come alive. He was the world's best storyteller. He could make the Bible come alive, giving the men and women of old the personalities that we couldn't imagine by reading the stories ourselves. He would ask questions such as, "Whey they were crossing the Red Sea, how many kids to you think their hand in the wall of water? Do you think they splashed each other? Saw fish?" I could just sit and listen to him for hours, giving each story his down-to-earth perspective and character.

I jerked awake at the sound of my cell phone ringing. As I noticed my coffee sitting cold on my desk, and the end of my pencil chewed, I realized I had again daydreamed about the wonderful days of my childhood.'s that time of year when we are plagued with the worst of all fevers. Spring Fever - the time when we have tantalizing days of warmth followed by cold rain and many more days of biting cold.

I sighed and tried to focus on what to do next, and what in the world I was going to write about. Suddenly I realized...I'm not the only one with this disastrous disease. Many other share this plague! I should share about how my family coped with this time of year when I was growing up.

My daydream above was exactly how we coped. We would take train rides and camping trips to whittle away the hours until Spring decided to let us outside. Confused? Well let me share...the train ride was nothing more than the dining room chairs lined up in the living room. My parents had loaded it with luggage, and we all dawned ourselves with homemade costumes and child-like accents. The parents as storytellers and impromptu characters, and us as the main actors, provided hours of pleasure!

Camping in February? Oh yes, a blanket fort in the living room with glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to the top blankets was the best camp site ever. My parents would lay there with my brothers and I, telling us stories from the Old West, the Bible, and my personal favorite...from their childhood. This was how we coped with the plague of Spring/Cabin Fever.

Looking back, I realized that the simplistic stage they set, the little time they spent and sharing with their children the simple gifts that God gave them drew their family closer together and turned the misery of Cabin Fever into the best memories I have...indeed, a Fine and Pleasant 'Misery.'

Take this time my friends as we are all cooped up inside, and make it a Fine and Pleasant 'Misery' for you and your family. No kids? Who says a "Camping Trip" under a blanket fort has to be for kids only? Something about microwave s'mores and sharing stories under a make-shift living room fort has a way of bringing out the deepest theological conversations in all of us. If nothing else, endless giggles will ensue and you'll find yourself closer to the person you shared it with. So...get out there...enjoy this season and make it a Fine and Pleasant 'Misery.'

- Valerie Gutschow, Preschool Big Group and Quest Coordinator

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