Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos, life is being found
~ Gungor, Beautiful Things lyrics
I don't write as much as I used to anymore. I'm not sure if it's because I'm a lot less contemplative these days or a lot more impervious. Maybe a little of both. And maybe this isn't a bad thing - this not "overthinking" all of the things, or "overfeeling" all of the feelings. Life is a whole lot more peaceful, that's for sure, than when I started this aptly titled blog - and journey - on the so-called "narrow path home".
It took a long, long time, but somewhere I learned to walk with a bit of faithful assurance that I didn't have to have this whole thing figured out, that the Lord really is worthy of my trust and that I can take each day as it comes for what it is - a gift. Perhaps it was with that growing faith, that my peace grew, too. Of all the fruits of His spirit, perhaps peace was one of the ones I had lacked the most. I had been an infant in my faith and "tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by the wind" (Ephesians 4:14).
Sometimes I like to think I've just mellowed out as I approach my forties, but I'd be remiss not to acknowledge it as the Lord's continual redemptive work in my life, and in my spirit. Other times, I worry that I've become insensitive, and then I'll have a day like yesterday, where I'm moved to tears, by nostalgia, and deep sadness.
Yesterday was beautiful. It had stormed the night before, but the sunrise lit up a cloudless, almost electric blue sky that needed no filter. Everything was a shade greener than it had been before the rain, the mountain in the distance bursting with bright shades of celadon and lime. Every fall, I gush over how it is my very favorite season. And then Spring comes and nothing quite undoes me the way it does, with Easter and all of the dead things coming to life again. Fall is glorious in splendor and beauty, but Spring... Spring is redemption on display for all to see.
"For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." ~ Romans 1:20
So yesterday, I had to drive out to what we called "the country" when I was a kid. It's now an actual suburb, but thirty years ago, it was just a stretch of highway through forests and farmlands with one tiny gas station. My great-grandparents bought a little house by a pond, the on pictured above. It's the last tangible piece of my childhood: that little piece of land, that pond, that tree. It's for sale now and even though I wouldn't want to live there at this season of life, it doesn't stop me from wishing I could by it, from wishing I could just hold onto it. Forever. I take pictures of this same swing, this same tree, this same angle, almost every time I'm there. Desperate to capture it one more time, desperate to hold on.
Perhaps desperate to try to capture an image of what I see when I'm there; and of what I feel. It's the one place where time has seemed to stand still for all of these decades. I can sit in that old swing and close my eyes and I'm seven again. Poppa is fishing out on the bank with one of his old bamboo sticks and his can of worms and Granny's inside making dumplings...
And I open my eyes to the reality - that was so, so many seasons ago.
On the way home, I pass the church where the funeral is taking place. The steel gray hearse juxtaposed against the bright blue sky - and the bright white cross.
My friend's wife passed away on Friday. I didn't know until yesterday. I hadn't spoken to him in several years, but we had become friends in the wake of our divorces. We had long conversations about life and love and faith, about how we were navigating the whole post-divorce single/dating life and reconciling reality with how we thought our lives would turn out. Most of us rely on social media to tell our stories and ours are both there, too. All these years later, our photos show us both remarried and with families, having made it through that difficult season and enjoying life in this one. Until last Friday. I never met her, but I'm heartbroken for my friend, for their families, for their children.
And death ushers in that sting of perspective, as it always does. The fragility and brevity of this life. The awareness that as I'm typing this on Friday, my own funeral could be next Thursday. That this season, this day, this moment, is all there really is.
Just yesterday morning, the TimeHop app showed me what I'd posted 7 years before: I was preparing for Chloe's pre-k graduation, registering her for Kindergarten, taking her to ballet. We're in a new season now, she's in middle school and getting braces and has traded ballet for lacrosse.
But I'm learning, still - always - not to lament the time gone by, the seasons past and not to worry about the ones ahead (the one with cars and college tuition) and just focus on the one we're in. Today.
To see today for what it is: a gift. And to cherish it as such. So that when I pass from this season into the next, or from this reality into the next, it will be without regret. I want a life lived without regret.
A life that wasn't missed from lamenting the past or fearing the future, but a life that was lived in the moment, that loved every moment... And for those last steps of mine on the narrow path home to be taken with this same faithful, blessed assurance that He's given us to make it through this life and home to Him.
This is my story. This is my song.
- Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!Heir of salvation, purchase of God,Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
- Refrain:This is my story, this is my song,Praising my Savior all the day long;This is my story, this is my song,Praising my Savior all the day long.
- Perfect submission, perfect delight,Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;Angels, descending, bring from aboveEchoes of mercy, whispers of love.
- Perfect submission, all is at rest,I in my Savior am happy and blest,Watching and waiting, looking above,Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
~Frances J. Crosby, 1873