We weren’t a church-going family in the 1950’s, when we lived in a suburb of Chicago.
However, the summer I was nine years old my mother enrolled me in Vacation Bible School for a week at the local United Protestant Church.
To say I was timid would be an understatement. When spoken to, I could hardly respond in a full sentence and kept my eyes cast down. I had no idea of my own likes and dislikes, let alone any opinions of my own.
Therefore, at Vacation Bible School I have no memory of speaking to anyone or being spoken to. It was the 1950’s, when classrooms were so loaded with students that the overflow received their lessons in trailers set up on the blacktop. The Vacation Bible School class was probably large, as well. I was docile, and participated silently in all the activities.
Two memories stand out from that week. We played running games outside and got very hot and sweaty in the Chicago humidity. Then, we were invited over to a long table that had been placed in the shade of a tree, and there were pitchers of lemonade. It was my first time tasting lemonade, and I can still recall how the tart taste quenched my thirst.
We read paper booklets with Bible stories in them, and I remember a colorful illustration of Jesus taking Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and helping her sit up in bed. I looked and looked at that picture. Today, 60 years later, I can still remember that picture and the feeling I had looking at it. Maybe it could be described as a peaceful, unworried feeling. I was the kind of child who worried a lot. When I looked at that picture, I felt less worried.
Also, when I analyze my nine-year-old self, I believe there was something else…maybe curiosity? Why did this man care about a woman who was a stranger to him?
Sunday School and Bible School teachers may have high expectations and wonder if their efforts are making a difference. Lemonade and stories of kindness impact a child’s life more than you realize. I have gone on to become a person of faith, and continued to grow in my relationship with God. It didn’t happen at Vacation Bible School, but over a lifetime. Perhaps a seed was planted in my life then. And that is all one can ask.