Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Days and moments

WHEN PARENTS DEDICATE their kids at our church, during the ceremony they are given a jar with 900 small stones–one to be removed each weekend before the little one turns 18. It’s a potent reminder of Psalm 90:12’s admonition that we should “number our days.”

It’s so easy to lose sight of the brevity of life. Especially in those early days of parenting,  when it seems like an endless round of cajoling, correcting and cleaning up (and, yes, cuddling). But now that my wife and I are in the grandparenting stage, I can say confirm that it is oh so true: it goes so fast.

I tried to be a present pop, but looking back I can see more times than I like to admit, when I was there but somewhere else at the same time. I don’t think I’m alone in having lived too much of life either in the past, ruminating over and reviewing what happened, or looking and planning for what’s to come. Sadly, that means you can miss so much of what is happening right in front of you.

Among my cherished memories of my kids’ younger years is a trip we made out west from our home in Colorado. We drove out to California, hitting the Grand Canyon on the way. With four kids and a limited budget, it was pretty basic: We camped, running power cords to meshed rotating fans we had in our tents. Even so, it could still be pretty hot—a bit like a sweat lodge.

After a day at the Grand Canyon, gawking at the immensity of it all, we got back to the campsite for baked beans and corn beef hash cooked on a small stove. We played some games and eventually got everyone wrangled into their sleeping bags, worn out from the day.

Heading back to our camping spot from the shower block later, I Iooked up into the night sky. With no light pollution dimming the night sky overhead, it was like someone has splashed white dots across the horizon. As I stood and took it all in, a shooting star arced in front of me.

Caught between the closeness of my kids sleeping nearby and the distance of the heavens stretching way out above, everything seemed to stop for a moment. All I could think was, It doesn’t get much better than this.     

It was both inconsequential and deeply profound at the same time, There have been similar transcendent moments since, when the extraordinary seems to burst through into the ordinary. But I wonder how many I may have missed because I wasn’t looking carefully, because I wasn’t counting.

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