Monday, October 27, 2008

The Innocence Preserve

We have all heard of wildlife preserves. A sacred place where nearly extinct animals can be themselves - a natural habitat that is fiercely protected in an attempt to bring back a dying breed. Well, this past year Ryan and I have worked on creating an "Innocence Preserve" in our backyard. Our mission is to create a sacred habitat for our children that is fiercely protected in an attempt to preserve the ever fleeting innocence of childhood. In my own life, childhood slipped mysteriously from my grasp so very early.
We began with a creek. We wanted a place were children and adults would want to be together. Ryan dug and excavated (literally) through all kinds of rocks. He and I mixed our own concrete for the surrounding sidewalk and bottom our our creek. Ryan hunted and collected rocks from our property to build the banks of the creek, rock paths and even found a perfect rock for a bridge. Did I mention we live in the Hill Country with nothing but rocks? Ryan used his eye for art and engineering mind to create a creek that looks like you stumbled upon it. Adults and children can not resist putting their feet in - the sound of the waterfalls call you to come and stay awhile.
We have been so blessed by the creativity and laughter of the children that have buzzed in the creek. The favorite past time of my girls is playing "Little House of the Prairie". They wash their dishes in the creek, they strip to their underwear to wash their clothes in the creek and hang them to dry across the bridge. Through out the summer our freezer was stocked (still is) with Popsicles. We are known to have Popsicle dates at the creek first thing in the morning...truly a perfect Popsicle paradise.
Next came the cabana. Ryan built it from cedar cut from my brother-in-law's property and roofed it with tin given to us by his Uncle (many, many thanks). The cabana is unfinished but one day there will be a smoker, grill, storage cabinets and a huge cedar table that can fit a dozen or more of our friends and family. A grown up recreation area to enjoy the sounds of God. We have great expectation of long conversations that build each other up, great food that gives life to our bodies and fantastic sights that inspire us to love what is lovely. Maybe you will join us:)
Finally, the Shanty as Masie Kate fondly calls it. Ryan built a little house (6ft in the air) for our girls to practice being mommies, wives, sisters, princesses and whatever else their girlhood hearts conjure up. To enter their domain, they can cross a Swiss Family Robinson bridge from our deck or they can climb a windmill and scamper a catwalk that invites you to knock on their door. They have a slide that comes out of the back of their house for grand exits and quick escapes! Baking in their garage sale kitchen is an acorn pie, bubbling over on the stove is soup de jour made with magical broth from the creek and to drink in the tiniest tea cups is rose petal tea. Sounds delightful doesn't it!
The Innocence Preserve really is the most wonderful and powerful place in our lives. When our children are grown, when the cousins return from college and distant friends look back our hope is they will remember fondly of the sites, smells and sounds of their childhood. Maybe we will be part of a lasting memory that brings a smile to their face. Innocence is so easily snatched, so quickly gone earlier and earlier these days. Join with us, make a place, create a space, set your heart to protect the sacred ground of childhood that God has entrusted to you whether through your kids, grandkids, neighbors or students. Let's turn off the T.V. (I know its hard trust me-I battle it every day) and go outside for a while. Be amazed and give God glory for He is in the midst of children.
Blessed are the pure in heart
Lord, teach me how to protect them from the start
Give me nerve
To fight the fight of our Innocence Preserve
Bring me the child you've created to be free
Let the children come is what You've spoken to me.
With each child You send accross our path
May we embrace and nurture the innocent or face Your wrath.
How precious to you are the pure in heart
May we pass on a legacy to those we love
That lives on when we are apart.
This Innocence Preserve we dedicate to YOU
You are our hope to see our prince and princesses through.