thinking outside the box
I’m a think-outside-the-box sort of gal. It’s heredity. My dad can build a boat out of duct tape and when he fixes something with unconventional means, we say he “Denziled it”. Then there’s Mom—not only does she encourage wildly creative ideas but often participates! I can vividly remember a couple winters ago she suggested we take the old red pickup truck to the top of the sledding hill with inflatable pool toys they keep in the garage even though we don’t have a pool. With her granddaughter riding shotgun on an enormous swan, Mom took flight on the alligator, gripping so tightly I could almost see white knuckles through her hockey gloves. Cold, icy plastic is awfully slick so about mid-way down going 30 mph, she could no longer hold on. She and that great beast had a rumble the likes you have never seen! In the flurry of legs and snow, there were a few seconds when you couldn’t tell where the alligator ended and the 76 year old grandmother began. It was beautiful.
It’s not surprising I’m thankful to have inherited this outside the box thinking, but we were also taught there is merit in looking inside the box as well. Growing up my sister and I each had a designated place for our important papers and projects; two large cardboard boxes bearing our names stored under the high- legged dresser in Pap’s room. It was Mom’s way of organizing, but it was significant to us little girls to know what we considered special was receiving validation.
And does anyone remember the “box socials” fundraisers held in the old school cafeteria? We’d decorate a shoebox, put some goodies inside, then people would bid on the box and you’d get to eat with the highest bidder. The young single adults might have enjoyed this old Victorian tradition, but I wasn’t a fan. There was the obvious challenge to make the most beautiful box to get a high bid, but you didn’t want to eat with anyone but your dad, so you’d sit there and pray it didn’t go past a price he could pay. I’m thankful to this day Dad always seemed to be able to afford my box.
I don’t know if it was just a rural thing or if people were decorating boxes all over the country, but another time we prettied up a box was for Valentine’s Day. Classmates would place their little valentines inside the slot of our homemade ornate boxes and we’d spend hours poring over the contents. Kids today don’t make elaborate boxes but giving valentines is still a tradition. When my daughter was in second grade she didn’t eat candy so as sweet little Evan was passing out his valentines taped to big pieces of candy, Alex politely said, “no thank you”. The poor boy hadn’t gotten over it by the time they graduated high school.
God told Moses to build a box. Some translations call it an ark. Deuteronomy 10: 1-2, “…Also make a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the ark. Isn’t it interesting how God pointed out Moses broke the first set? And aren’t we still guilty of breaking the commandments? He also knew it was important to protect things that held importance. This biblical box held what represented God’s presence, and like my earthly dad buying my shoebox at the box social, Jesus has already paid the price and rescued us. His love is our forever valentine and we dare not say, “no thank you” simply because someone has unknowingly taped something distasteful onto it.
May we think outside the box, reflect inward, validate what God sees as valuable, and all have something to look forward to like grandma’s 100 foot long slip-n-slide planned for this summer.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel