Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Susan and I decided to add “craft time” to our week of Bible camp this year, so we sat down to decide what items the children should make. When I suggested “pot-holders-woven-on-tiny-looms,” my wife was clearly unimpressed. She worried that today’s youngsters are too sophisticated for such an old fashioned pastime. Spencer and Seth clearly sided with their mother and voiced their concerns as well. After all, they argued, we’re living in the 21st century. It was clear to them that the first stages of senile dementia were clouding my thought processes. After all, just because I remembered weaving potholders when I was a child (during the second Ice Age, when the earth was much cooler) didn’t mean that such things ever existed or that children ever liked things of that sort.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I believed I was right. I told them, “You’re just going to have to trust me on this one. You won’t understand until you actually hold the thing in your hands. But I’m almost certain you’ll be won over.”
So, on one Saturday night when everyone was home watching television, I pulled a plastic potholder loom (and the necessary polyester loops) out of a discount store bag and began to demonstrate to my captive audience the perfunctory potholder-process. They caught on in no time, and the loom began to travel from person to person as everyone wanted to weave a bit on the tiny loom. Madeline and I completed the first potholder. Overall, we were pleased with the results, even though it came out a bit crooked because we were rusty on the finishing-up process.
The next morning at church, Seth wove an entire potholder as he listened to me preach the Sunday sermon. (He remarked that he found it calming for his nerves. I never knew my oratory skills had such a disturbing effect on people.) A pharmacy student who had watched him as he weaved asked him where she could purchase such a wonderful little device. She’d been looking for a hobby that would be a relaxing contrast to the stress and strain of graduate level studies.
Buoyed by our initial success, Susan sent me on a quest to buy as many looms as I possibly could purchase. I was only able to find 13 of them —which didn’t go too far with our 32 middle-school-age campers. The looms were a huge hit and were easily the most coveted items of the entire week. The children developed elaborate reservation lists as they waited (impatiently) for the people ahead of them to finish their weaving.
Finally, when the week was over, the departing campers begged for the looms so pitifully that Susan couldn’t resist sending them home with the campers who asked for them. We have every intention of having a loom for each of our campers if we sponsor a week of camp next year.
I like it when I’m finally right about something; It’s wonderful because it really doesn’t happen all that often. So, while I’m on a roll, let me offer a theory: It’s my belief that even though the world has changed a great deal in the past 50 years, children have changed very little. Basically kids now still like the same things that kids have always liked. The media and marketers would have you believe young people only enjoy things that are expensive, over-the-top, loud, and extreme. But, truth be told, kids have so many things like that in their everyday lives that they’re truly ready for a break. I find that kids nowadays have so much noise in their lives that they find great relief and joy in simple pleasures.
And, in working with this new generation of children, the thing that gives me the most joy is this: They still love to hear the old, old story of Jesus. Let’s take time this week to tell it to them.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the parsonage cats, Sister and Miss Louvenia love to chase the occasional homemade potholder that is thrown like a Frisbee.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.