Unthinkable! But it almost happened.
It was the last Sunday in summer. The temperature was around the thirty-degree mark. The humidity was off the dial. We were in the back garden looking after two of our grandkids. Lunch had been consumed inside where it was a little cooler but now the kids were stir crazy and needed some outdoor space. So did we.
Three inches of rain had fallen on the previous night and the afternoon sun was drawing the moisture from the ground as starkly as a syringe draws blood from a vein.
We placed the kids in a small wading pool that had filled up from the torrential downfall of the night before. The water was bath-warm. Disposable nappies were quickly disposed and skinny-dipping was the order of the day – for the kids, of course, just in case you were thinking otherwise.
Then it started.
It was an innocent and innocuous splash on a dry grandparent with an overreaching sense of justice. Splashes quickly escalated in intensity until ￼everyone was drenched to the bone and doubled over with laughter.
When the heat of battle had subsided I began to reflect on some of the family water fights over the years, as well as some of the marital ones.
Most have started when the car had been getting washed. Now there’s a family activity from the archives. It’s almost politically incorrect, or at least environmentally incorrect, to talk about a good old domestic car washing exercise.
But the most memorable ones have started in the kitchen with a splash from the sink, spreading to all areas of the house with both hard and soft surfaces (it is only water remember), climaxing with air and ground strikes from any part of the suburban yard. These include sniper attacks from roof-tops, surprise attacks from behind lemon bushes, ambushes from behind any bushes or full frontal ground assaults with garden hoses at close range.
Helen loves a good water fight as much as anyone and is responsible for the first splash as often as I.
And we almost went a summer without one!
￼How much does play play a part in a healthy life? What is the place of laughter is in our lives? Where does water feature in the fun we enjoy?
Did Jesus laugh with his disciples? Did they play together? Were the dinner parties at Bethany, the suppers in the city and the barbeques by the beach filled only with deep and meaningfuls? Was it all gravitas? Or were there light-hearted moments as well?
So much of their time was spent on a beach or in a boat. These were water savvy people. Were they ever in it? Just for fun?
It is hard to imagine thirteen men in a smallish fishing boat, in the middle of a lake, on a dead calm day, with nothing biting but a searing summer sun, without a prank in sight! While I’m sure they were never bored in the presence of Jesus, I’m not so sure there would never have been an accidentally/ on purpose disciple overboard incident.
And please don’t tell me that a stray spray on the cheek of an unsuspecting disciple would have been met with a cautionary word about turning a dry cheek or only those without sin casting the next splash.
When Jesus told the one about the surgeon with a plank in his eye doing micro eye surgery on a patient to remove a speck of sawdust, are we to think that Jesus told it with a straight face? Or that his listeners didn’t see the funny side of the ludicrous scenario?
I treasure two friendships where my friends would often ring me just to tell me the latest joke they heard. Both these men were busy in ministry. But the only purpose of their call was to crack a joke. I would reciprocate with the latest I heard. They would reciprocate to the reciprocation and I would surrender in stitches. It would be all done and dusted in five minutes.
In the last five years both of these friends have been called home to heaven. How I smile to think that they are in the very presence of the Creator of laughter, sitting at the feet of the Master of mirth. But how I miss them.
Laughter and water. Simple things. Primal. Such a powerful combination of God’s gifts.
Is there enough laughter in our lives? Is there enough water in our summers? I suspect there’s not enough in mine. One water-fight and now its winter.
Was it a particularly busy summer? I can’t remember. It was all a bit of a blur, which may mean be the answer to my question. And if that’s the case was it too busy?
Did we get our laughs in other ways? A series of Black Books? A little Monty Python? Some banter with friends over a leisurely meal? Perhaps, but a whole summer without a water fight?
And it almost happened.
Feature photo: what is in us