It’s just an ordinary Thursday afternoon.
But, somehow, the veil hanging over the face of the world gets ripped right off.
I’ve taken my kids to a secluded park along the edge of a languid river, because they love the single slide and the lone merry-go-round that reside there. Maybe the autumn light is slanting just right or maybe the painted leaves are just the right amount of incandescent. Whatever it is, as my kids run and laugh and climb and laugh and slide and laugh and spin themselves into an orbit of energy and joy and abandon, the edges of the world get sharper and the light gets brighter. In the still, crisp air, a single leaf float-rocks its way to the ground in front of me and everything snaps into focus:
We’re all leaves, on our way from budding to dying.
My kids are six, eight, and twelve and they are, each of them, like leaves in the springtime, erupting into life, caged energy unfurled, color exploding, anticipation bursting, and joy expanding. They have an entire cycle of life ahead of them. They are promise and possibility and every unlived moment just waiting to happen.
These days, I feel a little more like a leaf at the end of a long summer.
The days are still long and there’s still plenty of sunlight, but the hot, dog days of the season have sapped some of my initial energy and strength. I’m a little more dry. A little more brittle. These are good days. My edges haven’t yet begun to shrivel and my colors have only just begun to change, but that changing season is not as far off as it used to be.
My wife’s grandparents visited recently. They are almost ninety, and they traveled halfway across the country to see us. They are raging against the dying of the light, like autumn leaves that refuse to give up their color, refuse to release their hold upon the branch which has born them, refuse to give in to the winter that’s coming.
Perhaps it’s because my children are frolicking on the same playground upon which I played as a kid. Perhaps it’s seeing the me-I-once-was in them and wondering if, someday, they might stand in this very spot while watching their own kids come to life. Whatever it is, time and space fold in upon themselves and every season of my life is present at once. All of it. From the budding to the dying. And I decide to enjoy the end of my summer by being a witness to their springtime. While I can.
In a quiet park in the middle of nowhere, a late-summer leaf watches three springtime buds.
And it is, for a moment, almost more peace than I can handle.
My words are few this week because, in four days, I’ll be turning in the first draft of my manuscript to my publisher, and most of my words are going into it. (Tune in next week for more about that!) In the meantime, in lieu of words, I want to share with you two more bits of inspiration.
The surreal journey that began with my daughter and I on the TODAY Show has led to us being featured in a trailer for a documentary about the important role dads have to play in the lives of their daughters. It’s called A Voice That Carries. You can click on the link below to watch the video and, while you’re there, you might consider supporting this worthy cause. The people behind it are the real deal—some of the most good-hearted people you’ll ever meet. I pray their vision can become a reality.
Around our house, one song in particular is getting a lot of airplay right now. It’s a song written by a dad for his daughter but, really, it’s a song written for all of us who are needing a little bit of kindness. You can watch the video for “Be Kind to Yourself” by Andrew Peterson, by clicking the link below. His is a voice that carries.
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