It’s been awhile since we watched Jerry and Swing and their friends repair all his worn out parts. While I’ve been sick, and not on the scene, Jerry has had me by one hand and Swing by the other pulling me back to the Wood. They have whispered, cajoled, and plain begged me to tell the rest of their story, so here goes. I can’t promise we will finish in one sitting, but soon the whole story will be out of the bag, so to speak…
The day had been so warm and so full of excitement. Swing was still basking in the joy of having his old friends and their families come out to the Wood. If not to play the day away, at least spend some of it with him. To his surprise, it seemed as if their plan was to give his exterior a makeover. They measured, sanded, stained, and generally replaced all worn out parts. Jerry even took one trial swing before they were done.
“Oh, what a beautiful day,” Swing said, sure they could hear him. No one would ever know what new life meant to an old swing.
He loved the way his new disc hung on the new rope, straight and strong. How he was able to move easily in the breeze and feel it warm his seat. They were all laughing and making jokes and…wait, had he fallen asleep and missed them packing up and going back to town? “Silly me,” he chided himself. “Yes, I guess I did.”
When he looked around, the blankets from lunch and the tool boxes were gone, and the sun was low on the horizon. How had that happened? They were here just a moment ago!
Swing looked toward the opening in the Wood and could see them leaving, their voices and laughter fading into the late afternoon stillness. He could see someone walking backward, waving; it was Jerry. Jerry is telling me goodbye, Swing thought. He moved back and forth in reply, calling out, “Wait, Jer, don’t leave! I didn’t get the chance to thank you all and invite you back.”
As the shadows of dusk grew longer, Swing felt the old sadness again. It was trying to settle on his seat and wrap around his brain, to make him think he had only imagined this day. “No!” Swing said, “I did not imagine this beautiful day. I know it happened. I know they will come back another day.”
The sun was down, and as He looked up through the leaves of the tree in just the right place, he could see the edges of the moon. Soon the stars would come out and shine down on the Wood. They would also shine on his new disc and Swing knew he would be the fanciest one in the Wood. It continued to grow darker around him and Swing eventually grew drowsy. Before he knew what had happened, light snoring could be heard from somewhere near Swing’s tree. Not that Swing would snore, that would be unbecoming of one so noble and loved.
Jerry felt warm and happy that evening, remembering how much joy Swing must have felt from all the friends being there and helping in so many ways to make him shine again. After climbing into bed that night, he lay there, thinking about how he might get more people involved in making a real difference. Making the Wood into a Park again. Surely he wasn’t the only one who had memories from younger days. He lay there, his hands behind his head, and a smile on his face as ideas started flowing. But soon, sleep overtook his tired body.
The next morning he woke up early, the house still quiet. He had had a dream about how he might get this started, so he sat at his desk and started searching for bright colored paper in his stack of school supplies. By the time his mom stuck her head in and said, “Good Morning, sweetie, breakfast is ready,” he had completed nearly forty fliers. He was hoping the fliers would prompt every town member, girl scout and boy scout troop, Sunday school class, every store owner, and city department, every resident, to meet at the city square on Tuesday evening at five. He drew a picture of the new park, as he saw it, and prayed they would catch the vision, even if he was only a ten-year-old boy. Passion would win, he knew it would.
After church and Sunday lunch, he went to the tool shed and got a hammer and nails. Bobby was playing a video game, and mom and dad were resting. He gathered his fliers and a couple other supplies and set out to contact each store owner and ask if he could put a poster in their window, or on the sign out front. He then went to the fire and police stations and handed some to friends he knew there.
After about an hour and a half, he sat under the shade of a tree in the town square. Jerry felt good about his day’s work. After they read the poster, most everyone had agreed to let him put the fliers up. They smiled and either shook his hand or patted him on the back. One of the firemen had shaken his hand and said, “Hey guys, I see a future mayor here. This kid’s got it together.” He waved the paper, “I remember this park he’s referring to.” They all laughed and started sharing stories with Jerry about when they would go there as kids and young parents.
On his way home he handed out the rest of the posters to people working in their yards or walking in the cool of the afternoon. He started to go through the gate into the backyard, but then saw his mom and dad starting the grill for hamburgers. He remembered too late that he hadn’t asked if he could use dad’s tools, or told them where he was going. He hadn’t even asked if they thought it was a good idea.
He decided to go in the front door. The living room was quiet, so he sat down to think. He could be in big trouble, but then sometimes a guy just had to step out there and do what he thought was right, didn’t he? He knew he would have to tell them, and tell them about Tuesday evening, too. Because even if no one showed up, he had to be there. He hoped mom would make some cookies and lemonade to serve to those who did come to hear his ideas.
Bobby wasn’t home for supper, so it was just mom, dad, and him. He finally joined them outside, trying to figure out how to break the news to them. He squirmed and fidgeted, walked over and stood beside his dad, then followed his mom into the house to bring out the condiments. He was so full of excitement he felt like a helium balloon, floating in the air.
After they had fixed their plates and were ready to eat, Dad let the air out of his balloon with just a couple words. “Well, Son,” he said in his most ‘Dad’ voice. “It seems you had quite a busy afternoon. Why don’t you tell us about it, even if it is after the fact?”
Then, before he could gather his thoughts to make a sensible reply, Mom added, “And tell us how you plan to make all this work. A meeting in the town square? Did anyone tell you that you probably need to get a permit?”
Jerry looked up and gulped. Everything he’d done, all the plans he’d made, all the people he’d talked to seemed jumbled in his brain. All he could say was, “Well, I…” then he would try again, “You see it’s simple, really.” But nothing seemed simple now. He did what a ten-year-old baby would do, he cried. He cried for goodness sake!
He missed the smile and wink between his parents. Finally, Dad said, “Jerry, we aren’t trying to ruin the plan you made. In fact, we want to see how we can help. It was a good idea. All we want you to realize is you should have gotten us involved from the beginning.”
Jerry’s mind began to clear a little and he said, “But dad, don’t you see? If you and mom had been involved, it wouldn’t have had the same feeling. I know I need grown-ups help, that’s why I went to the store owners and the fire and police departments. I wanted them to see how important this is for the kids and their families. I wanted them to understand how fixing up the Park could make our town safer. Our families would have a place to spend weekends and summer evenings. I haven’t mentioned it yet, I will on Tuesday, but I would love to see a couple of sports teams play games there. Town competition, you know?”
He stopped only long enough to catch his breath and went on, “I’m hoping some of the guys who are working on the new subdivision across town will use their clearing equipment and clean out the rest of the bushes and open the whole park. Then kids could play on the merry-go-round and slide and see-saw.” He took a drink of his coke and looked directly into his dad’s eyes, “It would be awesome if we could get it all done by the end of June and have a 4th of July picnic and fireworks, an all day thing!”
“Whoa, buddy!” His dad’s eyes were sparkling. He hadn’t seen his son so excited about a project in a long time. Too many electronics he suspected. “Let’s get some facts about the actual work that needs to be done before Tuesday and then go from there. I’d say, though, you have a lot of support on your side already, judging from comments folks have made to your mom and me this afternoon as they walked past the house.”
They had finished supper by the time the conversation was over and mom enlisted his help cleaning the dishes. As Jerry went through the motions of drying and putting away, all he could think about was Tuesday afternoon. Even after he went to bed he could imagine standing before the whole town, making his plea. He prayed God would give him the words he needed to explain how huge this could be.
What are some of the ways you expressed your creative abilities, maybe through scouts, sports, or favorite art mediums? Tell me about it in the comments below.