Saturday, January 13, 2007

Garage Camping and More

My two oldest boys and I went camping tonight. Well, maybe it wasn't quite camping, being that an arctic blast came through with high wind gusts and freezing rain, but it did involve a tent and lots of fun memories. You see I told the boys that I'd take them camping this weekend, but after weather reports painted a bleak outlook, I decided to add a little twist to our camp out. Instead of heading to the nearest camp site and staking out a spot, I set up the tent, unfurled the sleeping bags and unfolded the camp chairs... in the garage.

I know it sounds odd, but it really was the best place to camp given the weather conditions. Plus, there was that little issue of the promise I had made to take the boys camping, and I couldn't rightly flake on a promise because of a little arctic blast, now could I? No, the camping would go as planned, but instead of sleeping under the stars, surrounded by trees, we'd sleep under a sheet rock ceiling, surrounded by lawn tools and storage bins.

The boys thought it a strange idea at first, but soon grew eager to dive into the tent and enjoy the experience. We put on our best pair of long johns, grabbed some snacks and unzipped the door to the tent. I'd forgotten what a magical place a tent can be for a young boy. The kids were thrilled, and once we started telling stories and playing games, I couldn't have gotten them out of that tent for a million dollars. Honestly, I don't think I'd have taken the money either.

At one point Trent informed me about the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He told me that Dr. King was a passionate man who had a dream. He said that without Dr. King, he'd have to beat up black people, and he didn't want to beat up anyone. I agreed that Dr. King was a great man, and thanked Trent for summing up the Civil Rights Movement in such wonderful terms.

Cale told a scary ghost story that involved bugs and bears and lots of other creatures, and although it wasn't quite as noble as a retrospective on Dr. King, it was equally endearing. We wiggled in our sleeping bags at every gory detail, and added a few details of our own for effect. We soon forget we were in the garage. We were camping!

Three books and a rousing game of Simon Says later, it was bed time. We zipped the sleeping bags together, and snuggled close for warmth. The blast had made its way through, and the night air was freezing. As the boys grew quiet and sleepy, Trent said to me in the sincerest of tones that his "whole entire body is filled with love." I asked the boys if they wanted to pray, and they said yes. We each said a prayer, thanking God for such a wonderful night, and more importantly, thanking Him for each other. After the last "amen", the boys drifted to sleep without fanfare.

As the rain dripped outside, and the frigid wind howled, I thanked God for the garage. It may have been the first time I've ever thanked God for my garage. What I was really thanking Him for was a very special time with my children in the most unlikely of places.

We ended up back inside at around 11:30pm. It was just too cold to stay in the garage any longer. Still, the garage had done its job. It gave us a brief opportunity to experience the all encompassing joy of being together, and we went to bed happy with "our whole entire body filled with love."

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