Wonder In Everyday: Lessons Learned From A Childhood Misadventure

I grew up in the “if it’s not pouring down rain, you’d better be playing outside” generation.  I was the only girl, so if I wanted someone to play with, I had to keep up with my two brothers.  Sedentary pursuits were not really our style. Unless, of course, it was raining, and then we were all voracious readers.

The neighborhood where we lived was a very new subdivision that was being developed out of an old ranch. There were loads of fields, trees, creeks, and homes under construction. It was a pretty awesome playground.

During one of our afternoon forays, we happened upon something very intriguing. It was a sheet of plywood upon which was spray-painted, “Do Not Move Board.”  Of course, those words got mistranslated in our little adventurer brains. What we read was, “Move this board to see what’s under it.”

My older brother got on one side and pulled.  I got on the other side and pushed.  My little brother did what little brothers do: he was annoying.  Slowly but surely, the board started to inch forward. My older brother dug in for one more good pull, and the board shot forward in front of me. I fell.

It felt like I fell forever. I fell into a huge hole that had been dug for the manhole and sewer connection.  The hole was probably only 6 -8 feet deep, but I was only about 4 feet tall, so the hole felt like it was 50 feet deep.

Hoping for a solution, I looked up at my brothers. They did what brothers do. They began to taunt me. I yelled at them to help me or to find help for me. They taunted more. They eventually came to realize, however, that we had broken the rules by disregarding the instructions clearly written on the board. We were all going to get in trouble. In those days, we had been led to understand by our parents that “in trouble” meant police, jail, and transgressions duly noted on our “permanent records.”

Fearing for their reputations and their freedom, my brothers abandoned me. I was left in the hole to fend for myself.  I’m pretty sure I cried for a while. Eventually, the fear of imprisonment became worse than the fear of being stuck in a hole. I tried to think of how the heroes of my favorite books and movies would have responded in this situation.

My solution was to dig hand and footholds in the sides of the hole and use my tree climbing skills to extricate myself. I got home tired, dirty, and mad at my brothers; but the looming fear of incarceration kept me from telling my parents.

As I look back now…decades later… I am reminded that curiosity and ingenuity are gifts that go hand in hand. They need each other. As an adult, I am grateful to have had the opportunities to develop those gifts when I was a child. They come in pretty handy on the days when I feel like I have fallen in a hole.

After graduating with a dual degree in History and Sociology, Molly became a youth minister in the Episcopal Church. She joined the staff of WV in 2003. As Voyage Coordinator, she adds the nuts and bolts to our itineraries. She is dedicated to bringing the gospel to life through pilgrimage. As an encounter expert, Molly can find the story of God anywhere and everywhere.

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