Gifts along the way to the grave

A week ago, they danced across the rock ledges on the shore of The Big Lake in the hours after the exhausting funeral.

Propped against each other, even tired as children, watching the waves foam up laying tireless, endless siege on the black basalt shore.

I looked over at my brother and his beautiful wife, second baby on the way, and it struck me that his hands are a man's hands.

I turned my face to the sun to soothe the ache that welled up inside, babe in partial seizure cuddled on my lap, exhausted from her rock climbing.  Let it soak in that it is a blessing that she can jump those rock ledges...even part of the time.

A fellow mom and blogger has just returned from Guatemala and writes that she will forever fight the middle ground.  (that middle ground that I so long for when I am on the edges of this battleground of life, offering up daughter and self on a tin platter of belief, trying hard not to feel the flesh tear when another piece is taken) She is the same woman who started thousands of others counting their blessings in her campaign challenging others to count 1,000 gifts.  My list is silent.  It includes the breathless gape of mouths open in joy, hair whipping in wind, skin bathed in the cool lemon of a September sun as the spray of water lashes the icy cheeks.

The boundless-joy grins - a matched set - of a grandpa and a granddaughter driving the boat.  (When did our parents become the grandparents?  Isn't there some way to stop time marching on?)

Her neck tight in little girl squeal as she starts the descent downward out of the trees in the lake air, thick with the last breath of summer heat.

The flap of flannel and blowing blond locks as he runs down the hill for the hundredth time, fists still chubby with babyhood beating a tempo of delight in the hot morning air.

This weekend, too, a mixture of joys and sorrows.  Meeting my brothers twins, their curly black heads smaller than my palm.  Seeing the look of fatherhood on my brother's face...the last of us to experience this speechless, love-at-first-sight thing called parenthood.  Traveling up, again, to my grandparent's house.  Emptiness.  Loneliness.  Fear as my mother's white hand reaches out to the window where my grandmother's used to, waves in just the same way.  We have all taken our place in a new generation now that the last of the grandparents is gone.  I am firmly in the middle, and my parents are next in line for the grave.  My whole life I have been battling back the worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).  So I let the tears drop on my hands as I type, and find a host of photos that remind me of the gifts that go along with our consequent decay.  Thanks be to God, we are all alive today.

The narrow pathway
Through the needle's eye
I'm stepping forward
To the place I die

For I know that You are faithful
As we walk these fields of white
To the waiting and the humble
Your Kingdom comes

The way of mercy
Takes me to the least
Down the road of suffering
To the wedding feast
~ Faithful, David Ruis ~
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