There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24 WEB)
Not everything in life is intended for serious contemplation and study. I think this is why I enjoy so many of Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes. I have no intention of going to his extents in experimentation but I do enjoy the simple things of life. Living on a small island there were opportunities to make simple things memories.
For vacations we would usually stay at home and have fun. Things like patching the cracks in the walls, power washing and painting the roof were very popular holiday activities. Going somewhere, from Guam, was usually out of the question due to the high cost of airfare. Still fun events abounded throughout the routine activities of the week.
On Wednesday evenings we busied ourselves with church activities. For a number of years I directed the church choir and other years provided musical direction for the Pioneer Clubs. Beth was involved as a singer in the choir or as a teacher in the Pioneer Clubs. The children came along to enjoy the fun events of the clubs and a midweek break from homework.
When the evening’s events were completed we headed home along Marine Drive. It was the only way home. With one main road circling the island our options for different routes was very limited. I think I could drive the route blindfolded it was so well worn. I never tried.
Along the way we passed the government buildings, beaches, restaurants and in the late 1980s they opened a 7 eleven as part of a local gas station. Invariably, or with careful attention to timing, we were in need of additional fuel as we passed the 7 eleven. I pulled up to the pump, Beth and the children headed into the store and I joined them when the tank was full.
The political status of 7 eleven has risen and fallen over the years. Some like the shop and others feel it’s to be avoided. However, they were the proud owners of an Icee Machine. This cup full of flavored sugar water was just the ticket after a long evening of singing or playing or studying. Selecting from the available flavors, which changed each week depending on the shipment arriving on the island, we would each wait for a chance to fill our cups to the brim.
Icees, or Slushies in some places of the world, are a culinary delight. All that sweetness surrounding your favorite flavor could quench the thirst of a camel in the middle of the desert. If you weren’t careful you would drink too fast and get “brain freeze.” This painful experience was avoided by drinking slowly after the first onset and provided a source of laughter as others watched your reaction.
Icees were cheap, refreshing and contained nothing of nutritional or long lasting value. Sometimes we need a little nothing to liven up our evenings and give us delight. In the early 1990s we were visiting my mother’s home when I remember another empty delight, lightening bugs.
Growing up in Georgia I was well aware of these marvels of luminescence. My brothers and I must have captured hundreds when we were young. We’d put them in a glass jar and take them to our room for the night. When they stopped flashing the jar would receive a vigorous shake to liven them up once more. By morning they would be let loose, if they survived.
Sitting on the back porch of my mom’s house Ellice and Joel came up and pointed out in the dusk towards the trees. “What are those flashing lights?” they asked with wide eyes. I explained they were lightning bugs and remembered the delight I had in catching them in a jar.
Into the house I went to raid my mother’s cabinets for empty jars. Grandmas always have the right accouterments for the fun and games of grandchildren. Sure enough there were four jars, with lids, just waiting to experience the thrill of the hunt.
After a few instructions and a little training the four hunters took up the challenge to capture the brilliant little creatures. I helped Evan catch a few as his little hands had problems coordinating the big jar with the lid and keeping his eye on the bug. Within minutes four glowing jars were set, like trophies, across the back porch railing.
We enjoyed studying them for a while as the children asked questions like, “how do they do that?” I created fictitious answers such as, “They are actually miniature dragons from the fairy kingdom and their lights are small internal flames.” They didn’t believe me but enjoyed the story.
Other fun adventures were part of living on the mission field and back in our homeland. They were each little treasures, learning experiences, encouragements in our lives. A moment here or there and then each was remembered long after the day they were discovered.
God uses the routine, the common things of life to teach us. In the wonder of lightening bugs, the “brain freeze” of a slushy or the strange appearance of starfish we discover bits and pieces of his marvelous creation. It’s not always the spectacular we remember but often the quiet voice of God speaking to our hearts, when we take time to listen.