It Was the Summer of ’61…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.                                                                                                                                           Matthew 19:14

That is the answer to the question, “what was your favorite summer as a kid?”

It was the summer of 1961. I was 11 years old, carefree, and we had the run of the neighborhood. There were four of us who ran around together- my best friend Ray from across the street and his younger sister, Mary Jo; Betty from up the street, and me. We had a club that met in a treehouse which was very cool, and probably by today’s standards, wildly dangerous. Of course, we did not know better, and no one was hospitalized that year. Yes, Mary Jo put her hand through a glass door and was stitched up, but that was pretty much it for serious injuries.

The club was, as society was in 1961, a sexist place. The boys, Ray and I, were President and Vice-President of the club, Mary Jo and Betty were Secretary and Treasurer. That is just the ways things were.

That summer was amazing too because the Cincinnati Reds were in the thick of a pennant race for the first time since 1940. Yes, they did came close in 1956. I remember that because dad was very excited that summer, only to be heartbroken once again in September. However, 1961 was the Reds year, and indeed, they did win the pennant. Just WOW for a kid in his first real pennant race!

I think back to that summer as we encounter some beautiful summer days right now. I also reflect back on this because many children don’t get summers like that. I just recently had a client tell me that, because of childhood abuse, she missed a great deal of joyful childhood memories, forced out of innocent childhood experiences by sexual abuse. She said, “I just wanted to be a little girl a little while longer.

Many children, too many, are deprived of those wonderful carefree memories which I am privileged to have. Many children around the world are in poverty, sexual slavery, or other abusive situations that preclude an innocent, carefree childhood.

There are things we can do to improve the lives of children who are suffering. Fostering children, adopting kids through Compassion International, mentoring kids through church programs- these are just a few ways to help children who need us. I encourage my readers to check out what volunteer program might be calling you to help.

I don’t want to leave on a sad note, but a hopeful one. Think about your best summer memories and celebrate them. Share them with your grandkids or kids who will not believe that back in the Dark Ages, we played in treehouses and had no concept of what an electronic gadget might look like.

Kids love those stories right!

Prayer: Thank you Father for the gift of childhood and wonderful times in the summer. We lift up those children whose summers are not as wonderful, Amen.

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