Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Tall Tales...

This past weekend I was the guest "Story teller" for the Wild, Wild West Fest Education Day in Keller. Basically six or seven groups rotated through different stations to learn about horseshoeing, the cowgirl musem, and other "frontier type" stuff. What a hoot.

I was invited because North Point has participated in many Keller Parks and Recreation events as volunteers, and the director knows I am a pastor. I guess she figured that I could tell a good story. (I'm not fully sure how to take that, but was glad to fill in nonetheless.)

So here's the deal. I did a bit on "Tall Tales." Rather than just tell the kids (1st-5th graders) about Johnny Appleseed or Pecos Bill, I decided to give them the characteristics of Tall Tales, and create one "live on the spot" with their help. That's when the fun began. I asked for a volunteer Teacher from their group, and we made up some stuff about their background - essentially I made them the hero of the story.

I Used 4 basic characteristics of Tall Tales:
1. Hero usually had an interesting/unusual birth or childhood.
2. Hero usually had a special superhuman ablility of some sort.
3. Hero usually had a big problem to solve.
4. Hero usually had a special item or animal that helped them solve the problem.

I know that there are more characteristics, but I only had 25 minutes for each group. I took each one of those and made up something goofy and the kids & adults were soon laughing out loud. I made sure the Teacher was the ultimate hero by the end of the story. Pretty fun interactive kind of thing.

So there I was. Dressed like a cowboy dude. Cow pattern bandana straight from "The Far Side." Straw Cowboy hat. Brown Eastland brand shoes instead of boots. Unshaven. Talking about Tall Tales.

What's funny to me about this is that I'm no cowboy. I don't even like country music. I was born and raised in the city. Sure, it was Shreveport, but it was still the city! North Point Fellowship is a contemporary church. This Sunday, the band, Everlight is leading worship with lead & rhythm guitars, bass & drums. They're leading off with a song by "The Benjamin Gate," for heaven's sake. I don't own a truck. It was acting pure and simple.

I remember thinking that this particular event might not exactly represent who I am or who North Point Fellowship is very well. I was not even looking very forward to it. But I have to admit, when the groups all laughed when they were supposed to, the adults were giving me great feedback and the kids were giving me their complete attention - it was a pretty fun time, all in all. But based on my look and the event itself, even I was a tall tale!

And I lost my voice. And had my photo in the paper (The Keller Citizen). ... On the front page. The caption read, "Right, Johnny Leckie - Pastor of North Point Fellowship in Roanoke - spins a tall tale using teacher Jack Hartsfield's fictional past."

Normally that would be something I was, er, shooting for. But now I'm thinking, "Are people going to see this and think that I'm a cowboy guy?" Will they come to North Point expecting to hear, "Shall We Gather At The River?" "Howdy?" "Y'all come back now?" Straw hat. Cow pattern bandana...

Hey, folks. I hope you show up at North Point anyway. But don't expect the Tall Tales. ...Or the hat.

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