As Sally and I started on our Saturday morning walk, we noticed a fox run across our street heading toward the creek behind our house. I think it’s pretty cool having wild critters running around our neighborhood. But as a little kid, that would have freaked me out. I still remember the recurring nightmares about wild animals under my bed.
When I was around six-years-old, we lived in the parsonage behind First Baptist Church of Oakville in South St. Louis County. Oakville was your typical post-World War II suburb that had been developed in the middle of farmland close to where the Meramec ran into the Mississippi river. Along with the acres upon acres of undeveloped woods, there were many other great places for a six-year-old to explore; including a goat farm, a privately owned dump and a ravine full of stuff thrown out of the original church building when we built our new sanctuary with the steeple.
Local legend, as reported by my older brother, was that a wild bobcat lived in the woods surrounding the ravine. My friend, Dennis and I loved to explore the ravine. We treated it like an ancient archeological site, but we also knew we needed to stay alert to the possible attack of “the bobcat.” Anytime we heard the rustle of a leaf or the screech of tires from the nearby traffic on Telegraph Road, we would stop what we were doing and look around for the mysterious cat.
In the middle of the ravine, filled with old Sunday school records and worn out and broken furniture, sat a humongous pulpit. This was not your ornate, high and mighty Catholic or even Presbyterian pulpit. This was an orangey-beige with speckles-painted particleboard, beat-up old Southern Baptist pulpit. It sat cattywampus next to several boxes of old Life magazines that my dad often regretted having thrown away. It was so big, that my buddy and I would both crawl in it and hide whenever we felt the presence of “the bobcat.” We’d sit in there, sweating from the lack of air, browsing through old Life magazines until we thought the coast was clear.
As I pondered that memory this morning on our walk, I asked Sally what she thought could be the theological take-away from that story. Her only response was that it just sounded like a couple of stupid boys playing. (Maybe that’s why girls were never allowed in our pulpit-fort).
Yes, we were just a couple of “stupid boys playing,” but at least we had the sense to know where to go when we were afraid.
What would you say is the theological and/or spiritual lesson from this childhood story? Or do you have a childhood story/theological lesson that you want to share?