Me, the aircraft carrier

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

I learned something at church Wednesday night that seems as if it could be important. That shouldn’t be surprising, I guess, since there’s plenty of important stuff to be learned at church. Most of it — in light of its eternal nature — is actually way more important than the lesson I learned in Awana on Wednesday, but this lesson had some immediate and tangible impacts that set it somewhat apart from the spiritual stuff.

The lesson? I make a large and lumbering target.

For those of you who don’t know, Awana is an evangelical and discipling program for children, with a strong weekly dose of playtime. As co-commander of our church’s Awana clubs, I’m often able to stand back and watch as the kids play kickball, run relays or play Shipwreck (which involves running to various points on the court or falling down in place, depending on the command that’s given).

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I had planned on Wednesday to take some photos of the excitement for our church Web site and to generally prepare myself for the important activities that went along with this week’s theme — Ice Cream Night.

As it turned out, we were shorthanded, and the kids seriously outnumbered the adult helpers, so the camera got put away, and I found myself at Gametime in the middle of a ring of laughing children.

After the brief, ugly flashback to my grade-school playground, I crouched and readied myself to show the little tykes my lightning moves, which I was sure would keep me in the dodge ball game until the end. The fact that we play with foam balls that can’t be thrown any harder than a cotton ball — a nod to safety, considering the mix between adults and children and the fact that this all takes place inside a room with hanging lights — just increased my confidence.

Whether it was my size or my notoriety, I’ll never know, but something made all those nice children decide I was going down first. No matter how much I tried to hide behind that tiny 9-year-old girl, the balls kept coming my way.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I was being betrayed not just by the fact that I was twice as large as all of the other targets running around in the center of the circle, but also by the speed with which I move.

In nautical terms, it turns out that I have all the quickness of an aircraft carrier. I was hit with a ball and gasping for air on the sidelines before I even knew what was happening.

Next time, I’m heading straight for the ice cream.