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Monday, July 22, 2024



By Rick Racela

Today is the official first day of summer and a tune that was a big hit back in 1959 keeps playing in my head. It’s a song that was sung by Jerry Keller and had words that went something like this:
“Here comes summer, school is out, oh happy day. Here comes summer- I’m gonna grab my girl and run away. If she’s willing, we’ll go steady right away. Oh let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home.” Thinking about the lyrics of that melody definitely evokes a simpler time in the playground of my mind. Remember when we used to cry out on the last day of school, “No more pencils, and no more books- no more teachers’ dirty looks?”
When did we get so grown up that we forgot how to sing and that we still have the need to play? I ask the Lord all the time to keep me from becoming suffocated by my adultness and my ever present responsibilities to take care of the daily tasks of the day, that I no longer am able to take the opportunity to come out and enjoy the warmth of the rays every now and then.
Summer doesn’t last forever – what am I waiting for?
My daughter Leah just graduated from Middle Township High School last Thursday. She also spoke at her Baccalaureate Service last Wednesday night. She concluded her talk with the best of stories about a guy who wasn’t content just to grow up and miss the adventure. He didn’t just speak about his dreams- he actually did something to help make them come true.
Before I tell you this story, I must warn you to please not try this at home – at least not without a qualified stunt double. It is the story of Larry Walters, a 33-year old truck driver who had a yearning to reach the heights, and so he did something about it.
When Larry Walters was in high school, he went to a local Army-Navy store and saw weather balloons hanging from the ceiling. It was then that he knew that some day he would be carried aloft by such balloons. This stirring in his gut would nag him for the next 20 years.
On July 2, 1982, Larry actually tied 42 helium-filled weather balloons to a Sears’s lawn chair in the backyard of his girlfriend’s house in San Pedro, California. With the help of his buddies serving as his ground crew, Larry then secured himself into the lawn chair, which was anchored to the bumper of his friend’s car by two nylon tethers.
Larry took with him all of the supplies that he thought he would need. He packed an ample supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just in case he got hungry. He loaded a BB gun to shoot out the balloons when he was ready to come on down.
After a big time countdown, up Larry went but he did not just go 100 feet in the air. He did not even go 1,000 feet in the air. Larry Walters went 11,000 feet straight up, straight away. He was rising so fast that he lost his sandwiches and he lost his glasses and he almost lost his mind.
An airlines pilot actually spotted Larry and his lawn chair up in the sky and reported that information back to the air traffic controller. Can you imagine hearing the words, “Hey, there’s a guy up here as white as a sheet and he’s up in the air hanging on to his lawn chair?”
Can you imagine the response that pilot received? Air traffic was diverted for four hours. But they finally did get Larry down and he eventually landed in a Long Beach neighborhood entangled in some power lines but somehow uninjured.
Now when the news reporter assigned to the story got to Larry, she asked him three questions. Question 1: “Larry, were you scared?” Larry answered, “Yup!” Question 2: “Larry, will you do it again?” Larry answered, “Nope!” Question 3: “Larry, then why did you do it in the first place?”
Larry answered, “Because I got tired of just sitting there.” Isn’t that a great statement? Larry did not want to just sit there and not go for it. So even if he wasn’t the brightest man in the world. we have to give him some credit for letting the sun shine down on his happy summer home and he did make a memory that not he or anyone of us who have ever heard his story- would ever forget.
My daughter Leah told this story and challenged the graduating Class of 2006 to not just sit there. She exhorted all who listened to her to make sure they stayed bored of doing nothing. And maybe it is not on a lawn chair, but the Lord has given us each day to unwrap as the precious gift that it is and we can either settle in and just sit there and waste the summer days, or we can get up and invest each and every 24 hours we have and even start to soar a bit in our happy summer home.
So, “Here Comes Summer!” Will you waste it? Will you spend it? Will you invest it? Will you wake up and dream a bit with your eyes wide open? Maybe many of us are not 17 anymore, but we don’t have to lose our wonder, do we? Wonders never cease for those who never cease to wonder so you get your lawn chair and I’ll get mine and I’ll meet you on the way to Cape May for some Wildwood Days to remember.
Pastor Rudy invites you to The Lighthouse Church this summer with Celebration Services on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. at 1248 Route 9 Annex and Sunday Morning’s at 9 and 10:30 a.m. at Middle Township Elementary School No. 2 in Court House.

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