Before expensive suntan lotions, Mom and Aunt Hilda used good old- fashioned cow’s butter. They’d get all greased up and then go hoe corn… or lie on the tin porch roof. I’m not sure what SPF butter has but I’m confident in saying it can’t compete with the reflective properties of a tin roof. (A funny aside was a little incident concerning the sun-bathing roof. One morning, in their haste they emptied the chamber pot out the upstairs bedroom window. Unbeknownst to them, there was a man visiting Pap outside standing merely inches from the stream of “acid rain” pouring off the roof! It wasn’t addressed then and it probably shouldn’t have been now;)
As a child, it was a big event to crawl out onto the porch roof to retrieve a badminton birdie or Frisbee. Sometimes we’d linger and survey the farm from our new perspective. My bed was next to a window directly over the porch so when it rained, that roof made music. When we played volleyball the rule was we played off the roof as it was still considered in-bounds. And the roof was an integral element to our favorite game of Annie Over.
Sometimes roofing nails work themselves out of place and need hammered down. Recently terrible winds were blowing a large sheet of tin back and forth on the tractor shed. It was quite the rodeo ride but I finally got it secured thanks to Mom’s guidance on the ground. Parents are good at telling us where to put our feet for stability and what needs to be hammered in because they often see things we can’t.
In 2 Samuel 11:2 a storm was brewing but it wasn’t wind…While strolling on his rooftop, King David spotted a woman next door bathing, which ultimately led his life on a trajectory riddled with bad decisions. The nails were coming out of his solid foundation. Lust can blow the roof off like a tornado if it’s not hammered down with some Godly nails.
Then there was this group of men in Mark 2:4 and Luke 5:19 who didn’t repair the roof but actually tore it apart just so they could lower their buddy down through the hole. He was paralyzed and they knew he’d be healed if they could just get him to Jesus who was teaching inside the crowded house.
Matthew 24:17, Mark 13:15, and Luke 17:31 all describe Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in which He instructed the people to escape by fleeing along the rooftops quickly, not taking time to go down into their homes for any possessions. The houses were probably close together with flat roofs that made an elevated road of sorts. If God gives us a means of escape and tells us what path to take, we’d be wise to listen.
One of my favorite images of a biblical rooftop is found in Acts 10:9, “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.” It reminds me that we sometimes need to get a new perspective on things and prayer can help us do this. I accompanied our church youth group on a mission trip to Guatemala and it was a beautiful sight on our hotel roof. Teenagers were scattered about sitting quietly doing their morning devotions as the tropical sun began to warm the breeze blowing clouds around the dormant volcano in the background.
This ole farmgirl appreciates a good roof. My hopes are that we all have one over our heads (or under our feet), have good friends who never give up on getting closer to Jesus, and that we seek scriptures to nail down truth in the storm or show us an escape route from destruction. I’d also propose if we do climb out on a roof, let’s leave the butter and take our bible.
He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not…I remember plucking out the velvety white daisy petals one by one as my best friend and I eagerly waited to see how my grade school crush felt about me. The truth would be revealed as the last petal was pulled. It was intense! But of course that was before cell phones and we were easily entertained with nature and simple things.
Another important source of information was a dandelion. We’d blow on it and however many fluffy seeds were left on the ball represented how many children we were going to have one day. We’d go light-headed trying to blow them all off! These pretty yellow flowers, originally brought over with the first settlers, were once deemed valuable for food and medicine and popular in gardens in Europe. But then someone decided that a well-manicured lawn void of the free-spirited dandelions was a status symbol. Big herbicide companies have further brain-washed us into thinking they are annoying weeds. But the truth is dandelions are valuable pollinators! Even though they don’t require pollination to spread, they just avail themselves for the bees! And the entire plant is edible with considerable health benefits.
My mom says we often have a greater appreciation for things the more we know about them. She’s thankful her teacher (and mother), Olga Balli-Harris, taught her students a new flower every day. They learned about the natural world on the hillside, in the woods, and field below their one-room school. Mom says to this day she can still identify many of the wildflowers on the farm because of her mom’s lessons. It’s satisfying if we can truly “see” what we’re looking at.
Common flowers we see in the mountains are mayapples with their unmistakable umbrella shaped leaves. When Mom and her sister, Hilda, were young girls, they joined their cousins Edzel and Basil Pugh in a business venture digging mayapple roots. After the roots were dried on a tar-paper roof, the boys’ dad sold them at a farmers’ market in Weston. Story has it, to make the time go faster; the kids would play church while they dug. And one of them, (mom refused to name names to protect the “innocent”), could mimic a specific church elder praying with great enthusiasm and accuracy—even the tone of his voice.
Speaking of voices, in scripture the voice of God has been represented by wind, sometimes strong and forceful and sometimes like a gentle breeze. John 3:8 “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof…” Some scholars say “ the wind blows” really translates into “The Spirit breathes”. Can you imagine the power and purpose in the Breath of God? When the disciples were to scatter like dandelion seeds and plant the Gospel , Jesus breathed on them. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” (John 20:22)
In 1962 Bob Dylan released a song, “Blowin’ in the Wind” which became an anthem for that era. It highlighted people’s lack of concern-- “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend he just doesn’t see?” And it highlighted spiritual blindness--“How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” Answers can be difficult to identify even when we’re looking right at them. But, if we listen for God’s voice, the truth can become as evident as dandelion seeds set in motion by a breath or a breeze. Allowing wind to symbolize the Holy Spirit, “The answer, my friend, is blowin in the Wind. The answer is blowin in the Wind.” And as for that daisy? I know when we pluck the LAST proverbial petal the answer will be as it always has been, “HE loves me.”
Janet Cowger- Fliegel