Good Friday and the Tire Swing

In honor of Easter and the holy possibility of new Life and new beginning -- I am reposting an article about a childhood friend, and the quiet business of becoming.

"Life is a Tire Swing" image by Pamela Murphy

Alleys and Backyards.
Andee Harty lived down the alley. She had long brown hair, an easy smile, and a golden retriever named Nugget. Andee’s real name is Andrea. We walked on concrete suburban sidewalks to Roosevelt Elementary school together, day after day, year after year. Sometimes, she had to carry her cello and we walked a little slower. We were in orchestra together, went to camp together, and drew a series of bubble people named “Herschel” in junior high English together. Her Dad had an enormous and ongoing boat project docked in their back yard -- which made him seem a little like Noah. I spent much time in that back yard, on the tire swing.

Jesus and the Tire Swing.
The tree tire swing was our Starbucks. We’d meet there, and spend countless words and chatter while swinging. Two freaky fridays happened on the swing. I’m guessing we were about 9 or 10 years old. It was Good Friday both times. Public schools were closed the Friday before Easter. It was a three day holiday. "Good Friday" is historically understood by Christians to be the day when Jesus was executed. I had just learned in Sunday School, that his approximate time of death was around 3 pm.

It was 3-ish, when Andee and I were spending our day-off by the tire swing. Sometimes I would sit on the top and she would sit in the middle hole. Other times we'd just push each other and take single turns. This time, I think she was laying in the grass and I was sitting on the top of the tire, holding the rope over my head, and not swaying much; just talking. I was telling her about the Jesus death-time, and feeling quite sad about it. As we were talking, the sky started to get cloudy and dark. A huge midwest thunderstorm rolled in and lightning cracked through our conversation. It was a black storm and Jesus death all at once. We both ran for cover.

A Yearly Miracle.
That very same series of events happened pretty much exactly the same way on Good Friday the following year. I decided I must have somehow missed this annual phenomenon. Apparently, every single year lightning cracked at precisely 3pm on Good Friday. The implications were miraculous. Right then and there, I came to believe that every year at the exact moment when Jesus had said “It is Finished” a big storm opened up and rained down on the world.

That stormy idea made me seriously question why everyone in entire the world wouldn’t believe what Jesus taught. It was a yearly miracle that no one was talking about. I was perplexed and amazed.

Obviously, the next Good Friday brought disappointing news. No 3 o’clock storm. No divine opening of the skies or booming thunder ... quiet instead. My wonder wasn’t a yearly miracle. But the tire kept swinging.

Swing Music.
Last fall, grown-up Andee and I stood reminiscing at our high school reunion. Andee asked me about a song we used to sing. We learned it in music class, in 2nd or 3rd grade, I think. 35 years later, all she had to do was sing the first line and it started playing in my head. It was an old english song, meant to be sung in a round. And we used to sing it around and around and around.

“White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lily of the valley deck my garden walk
Oh don’t you wish that you could hear them ring?
That would only happen when the fairies sing.”

Yes, it’s a silly childhood song. But, as soon as she mentioned it, I could see the lines in the concrete sidewalks as we walked to school. And I could hear our small voices singing. In that moment of reunion, I was standing in one place as an adult, but in my mind,
I was on the tire again,
a pendulum swaying,
back and forth,

here, then there.

A Tree Metronome

the wonder days
of thunder and miracles,
the greening silence
of life and growth,
swinging beats


what we once believed
what we now know,

who we once were
who we are now becoming.


Today's Questions:

How have I changed?
Who am I becoming?




Elinor said...

I loved this and it brought me back to my own childhood where time seemed to stand still and there were no responsibilities or worries. Wow, I have changed a lot since then. I’m still pondering the question of who I’m becoming.
Love your blog,