I've been moping tonight, facing with reluctance the Monday morning return to work after a week's vacation. I am blessed with extraordinary work--I cannot argue with this--but it is still hard sometimes to walk away from the gifts that come with life at home. We've taken a dive into summer this week--literally--with seven straight days of swimming in pools of friends or our beloved town, and I have been reminded that I. Love. Summer. I might have been born in January, but in my heart I'm all June, July, and August!
In the midst of my moping, I read a headline about a housefire that killed six children in a tiny village where dear friends grew up, and where we still have ties. While we didn't know this particular family, their tragedy certainly drew me to a stop in my "woe is me" routine. Life is beautiful, and seems extremely short no matter its length; tonight I'm going to keep my mind on the pool rather than tomorrow's awaiting desk, enjoying the summer these children and their family now won't have.
A seminary professor shared a story of a man who stood outside the gates of eternity, clinging to a pocketful of dirt from his homeland, reluctant to let it go so as to enter heaven. When at last he released the dirt he had brought along for the journey, he passed through the gates and discovered the whole of his homeland before his eyes. As I think of these poor children, perished entirely too soon in an accident beyond their knowing or control, I am hoping that an eternity of summers has already greeted them, and that they are diving off diving boards into pools that go on forever. May life eternal be the whole of the goodness of this world.
This week has indeed been a taste of all that is good, and here are just a few bright spots:
*First, the comic: In writers' workshop Lucas and his kindergarten friends both write and illustrate stories of their lives. I was pouring through Lucas's work from this past year when I discovered a set of stories about a recent school vacation. Underneath his own "sounded-out" spelling his teacher often wrote a translated version of his work. One picture of the dog and our living room was created with our son's usual attention to detail, and below I could read (through my own sounding-out), "I got Ty to the couch." Knowing how our dog, Ty, obeys (or not!), this was no small accomplishment for the youngest in the house. The translation by his teacher was the highlight of the story, though. "I got tied to the couch." Hmmmm....wondering why the principal didn't call to follow up on that one!
*Second, the sentimental: Lucas turned six this week, and the passage of birthdays is always an opportunity for me to revisit my birth stories, revisit the incredible people my children have become, and revisit my own decision to be a parent. I must be wearing this reflection on my very skin as a woman at church this morning turned to me and said, "It gives me so much joy to see how you attend to your son with such love and affection." I hope she sees the same when I'm with my daughter (this morning Lucas and I happened to be teamed up for a trust exercise during the children story), and that she will have this sense of me long after this blissful week of vacation concludes. They are my greatest joy, and with all of the pride and sense of acclaim/accomplishment that comes from my work, I hope don't lose sight of this most important role and purpose. They are growing so incredibly fast. Kyra learned last week that she has no more baby teeth remaining....at eight years old! How on earth have we concluded the tooth fairy visits already? Her feet are nearly my size, and she will be looking me in the eye in another two summers. I love these amazing kids.
*Third, the practical: I took an email-free vacation and delighted in being more attentive to myself, the kids, Matt, the world at large. I'm still contemplating how to return to my day to day life with the gift of the realization that very little of actual importance is pleading for my attention with those beeping messages and buzzing phones. I think I'll make a rule of "emergency use only" for the cell phone when at the beach or the pool. I was free to say "YES!" to so many more of the kids' requests because my attention wasn't elsewhere. This "yes" is a gift to all of us.
Ah, summer....camping trips ahead, summer vacation on the Cape, beach-bound destinations with our newest sand-eating nephew. It is really the bounty of life, this season of sun and surf. I feel grateful for every moment of it--clothes on the line, dinners on the screened-in porch, too-late bedtimes for too-tired parents and kids, and fireflies peeking out at me around every corner. Bring on the homemade ice cream, and let the games begin!