Written by Betty Barcheski
When the Safer at Home order was issued, my whole world turned upside down. I found myself shut off from doing the things I enjoyed: visitations with members of our church in nursing homes, PrimeTimers outings, going to concerts, museums, and the theater. I knew I wasn’t the only person who felt foreign in seclusion, but I felt trapped. The front porch became my outlet and my salvation.
From my porch I would see a bunch of children pulling wagons with garden implements, riding bikes, or running around the corner and out of sight but I had no idea where they were going. It wasn’t until I was invited to a socially-distanced visit with my next-door-neighbor Doris, who lives on the corner with a spectacular view of the happenings in the neighborhood, that I learned the reason for all the activity. While seated on her patio, another neighbor, Ben, approached us and joined our conversation. Ben, who is married and has two sons, normally works from home during the week organizing weekend events for owners of antique automobiles who race them on tracks around the country and on the weekends Ben travels to oversee the events. On the rare weekend he has been home, I’ve seen him come down the street bouncing a ball in his hands, and, all of a sudden, a bunch of children – boys and girls of all shapes and sizes and colors – would come bounding out of their homes after him to join him in an instantaneous game in the field around the corner. After Safer at Home was ordered I saw Ben all the time.
As he told us about the progress the children were making on building a dirt bike racetrack in the woods beyond the field, Doris said that, before the work on the racetrack began, he had gathered up all the children and told them about the project and asked it they would be willing to do the work. Most agreed. One of the older boys asked Ben why he wouldn’t just hire someone to do the work. Ben told him that planning and building something with one’s own hands is an accomplishment, and if the boy took part, he would take pride in the completed project and learn something about building his own character in the process. The boy became a regular worker.
Wayne and I took a hike to check on the progress of the dirt bike racetrack. We found corrugated pipe carefully placed under wetter parts of the track to prevent washouts, a couple of dirt ramps, curved, sloped tracks, a lovely wooden bridge over a ravine, and the best-looking treehouse with a ladder that leads to a trap door to the platform that overlooks the racetrack, yielding a spectacular view.
Now, about suppertime when the day of working on the racetrack is done, I sit on the porch and watch as 20-30 children come scrambling down the hill on their bikes or Razors, or carefully maneuvering the wagons, all the while shouting and laughing after a long hard day. The sight of the children and the sounds of their voices thrill me.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony when the racetrack is completed, Doris, Wayne, and I will be in attendance to distribute cookies and lemonade and to take photos of Ben with the children who made it all happen. And I will reflect on the wonderful time I had during the time of Safer at Home, watching the children growing their characters.
I think of the hymn For All the Saints when I see the children coming down the hill:
For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia!
Psalm 46 has been my resource for strength since I was a young girl, and I’ve leaned on it often since COVID-19.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah