Many precious memories are tied to the spot where I’m writing this. It is a pleasant Alabama summer evening. The heat and humidity have taken the night off. I’m taking advantage of this wonderful weather and writing this from the front porch swing at my parents’ house. My late grandfather built this swing. It is simple. It is sturdy. It is perfect. What is it about swings that reach right to my heart? Is it the pull of my southern roots? Is it that this specific swing has been hanging here my entire life? Is it the hours I have spent here? There are a number of reasons why swings are some of my favorite things. They have been a constant presence in my life. For me, swings are a symbol. The various swings in my life could tell so many stories about who I was and who I am.
This swing that my grandfather built calms my soul. It is a place of prayer, reflection, laughter, and learning. It could tell the story of a freckled face red headed girl spending an entire summer day reading a library book. It could tell the story of a dog named Murphy who kept her company while she read. It could tell the story of a family of four watching lightning bugs and just spending time together. It might mention two sisters laughing, playing, singing, and making up games. It could tell you about a teenage girl listening to the radio and sharing secrets with her friends. It could tell the story of a girl lying alone dreaming up stories, thinking about her life, and wondering about the future.
The swing that used to be on the porch at the river was also a favored spot. It could tell the story of a girl and her cousins singing country songs from an old radio. It could talk about a grandmother telling stories about what life was like when she was a little girl. It could describe homemade ice cream, big catches, and dripping bathing suits. It could tell you every lyric of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. It could tell the story of a family that loves one another no matter what.
The swings at Camp Ney-a-ti – in the Peace Hut or at the rec hall- were the favorite places to congregate at camp. They could tell the story of laughter and conversation. They could tell many stories about the best week every summer. They could tell you Bible stories taught there that stay in one’s heart forever.
The swing at a dear friend’s house could tell the story of thankfulness. It could tell the story of a girl swinging one of two precious babies to sleep. It could tell of the love and thankfulness for these girls’ health and for the influence of their mother.
Playground swings are similarly special. The swing set my dad built for us in our backyard is a story of the childhood of two girls. It could talk about the swing and sing game, olden days, and butterfly kingdom. The swings on the playground at school could tell the story of children and their games and alliances and arguments. The swings in a park near my cousin’s house could tell the story of a girl and her cousin singing every word to a Bewitched song. Porch swings. Swing sets. They are important to me.
As soon as we move back into our house, I’m hanging up a swing…