I was once a tomboy.
I liked soccer, swimming and racing in my roller skates. In PE I ran as fast as I could to beat all the boys.
I grew up in a house with a red fence, a basketball hoop in the driveway and a front door that’s always open. Behind the fence we had bushes that grew berries. Not the berries you eat, but the berries you squish into “jam” when you play little house on the prairie with your siblings in the backyard. The backyard with a brick wall you may have taken a piece out of to grind into “flour” for your “prairie bread”.
Our house sat across from a large park with a baseball diamond, woods and a creek.
Growing up, I liked bugs and frogs. I caught fireflies and kept them in a wire house, as if I was doing them a favor by “rescuing them”. The butterfly net I got for my birthday was used as a frog hunting tool. Over the course of my life, I’ve probably caught hundreds of them (I still try, on occasion). But my pride and joy was a bullfrog that was too large for my net, and had to be caught with my hands. I brought it into my 6th grade science class. I think it might have died there after a couple days…
I used to spend hours at the park across the street. In the winter I cracked the ice atop the creek and loaded it into my sled, trucking it back home to build igloos or pretend I needed it for survival as an eskimo. In the summer, it was mostly frog hunting, and the occasional search for stray baseballs in the woods.
One summer, we had a storm that left large sticks all over the park. I started collecting them, until I had enough to make my own “house”.
I made a teepee.
A large teepee -one you could literally stand up in. I’m sure it took me weeks to build. The sticks wrapped the back half of a large tree, so it couldn’t be seen from the road. I collected so many sticks that there were no gaps to see inside. A large piece of bark swung open and shut as the “door”.
The tree had notches and gaps between its roots to store all the treasures I found in the woods. Balls, bottles, fireworks trash, rocks and an abundance of acorns. I made a garland of leaves, a flag stuck in the ground and I even recall writing “Welcome” in the dirt at the entrance.
I find it funny the detail I remember about that teepee. I thought of it today as I shopped for a wreath to put over our fireplace. 10 year old Katie would have just made one out of sticks.
My life. It was so full of play and creativity. Not a worry in the world. Because the weight of life just didn’t exist yet.
I live a happy life, but as I’ve aged I’ve noticed that my sense of whimsy and carefree is not near what it used to be. I’m not sure that it’s by choice, but by experiences of hurt or sadness. I know more now than what I did before.
I’ve fought that. Being safe, protected and naive sounds easier. Pretending I don’t have a budget sounds easier. Pretending my mom didn’t have cancer sounds easier. Pretending I don’t have to work at my marriage sounds easier.
Living an easy, carefree life is terrific. Like the teepee of my childhood.
But a life without experience is shallow. Our God does not call us to be naive. Even when the truth is hard to swallow.
Today I’m attempting to not wish that my life is easy, but hope for experiences in which God has an opportunity to speak to my heart and deepen my view in who He is and who I am to Him.
“It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars.” Garrison Keillor