I was in the bookstore and I saw a round headed, clear-eyed little black boy about seven years old easily skipping through the isles. He was an adorable little fella’ and he appeared happy and carefree. He reminded me of an equally cute little guy in our church named Andrew.
Andrew was at camp last week and I was watching him from a distance. He must have had a treat from the Snack Shack in mind because he had a big smile on his face and he was skipping all the way across the campground. He looked happy and carefree. He didn’t seem to have a bit of self-consciousness about him. He was a pretty good little skipper, too. Something in me envies a carefree little boy with his dog on a summer afternoon. That feeling always brings to mind the lines of John Greenleaf Whittier:
Blessings on thee little man,
Barefoot boy with cheek of tan!
With thy turned up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes,
And thy red lip redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace
>From my heart I give thee joy–
I was once a barefoot boy
It’s sad to think that most little boys probably stop skipping by the time they are twelve or thirteen. Soon thereafter they are slowed by the burdens of manhood. It’s good they don’t understand about taxes, unions, retirement plans, tuition, car payments, insurance premiums and co-payments. If we were able to help them understand how short and few their carefree summer days would be they would probably stop skipping sooner. Andrew probably only has about four more skipping summers left. Maybe if we changed the name of skipping to hop-jogging or something, little boys would keep doing it into adulthood. I have a little advice for you Andrew. Skip on while you can little man.
One summer evening on the porch of our country home I was talking with my dad. He got a far-away look in his eyes and made a statement that made me realize he had similar thoughts. He said; “The days you can throw everything you own in the trunk of the car and head off across the country will be gone before you know it. You should enjoy them a little while you can.” He was right.
Some day soon I’m going to find an isolated stretch of beach, take off my shoes and skip for a mile right along the place where the water laps he sand. I just hope nobody sees me.