Growing Up

I am not ashamed to admit that at the beginning of every school year
I get a little sad (well sometimes a lot sad) as I send my kiddos
off to another school year.

There is nothing like a birthday or the start of a school year
to get me melancholy.

This new school year hit me in waves.
We are into our second week and a funk has spread over me.
It probably has something to do with getting up an hour earlier
and battling bed time at night, so most likely I am just plain exhausted.

However ...
when driving to work this morning, I pressed shuffle on my phone and the song,
"Lullaby" by Trout Fishing in America played.
It is a great folksy tune mixed with a synthesizer.
Right after that song came the song "Come Away to Sea" by David Wilcox.  Now I don't have a lot of lullaby music on my phone so the shuffle picking two in a row is a rarity and didn't help me in my funkiness.

"Close your eyes and I'll sing you a song .... lullaby" and that
is all it took for me to get teary eyed
as I thought about my kids,
specifically Eva when she was a toddler
living in Hannibal, Missouri.

Once when my mom visited us, and all of us were out in the front yard
along with all of our neighbors, too in their front yards,
and she commented that she felt like she had stepped back in time
into a Norman Rockwell painting.  All of us outside raking leaves and having
pleasant conversation as our children ran from yard to yard playing with one another.
It was almost like the set up for a musical where we all joined in together
singing.

There is something so simple about toddlers.
No complex homework or social environments to navigate.
Afternoons are always quiet with snack and nap time.
At least that is what I choose to remember.
In my moments of memory lane, I try not to remember the temper tantrums,
or the mishaps with potty training,
or the blow out diapers,
or the refusal to go to bed ...
I like to remember all the good calm times.

Since I am a pastor and spend a lot of time at the church building,
it is hard to not let my "funk" seep into my entering the building.
My melancholy for a simpler time in the church.

When as some of my members like to say,
"we opened the doors and people fell in."
Which I believe predates even me.

I grew up in the decline and even though I was young, I can remember the adults
talking about how my Sunday school class was smaller than my brothers
which was smaller than my sisters (I am the youngest).

I can remember the adults having serious conversations, late night
meetings at the church about what needed to be changed to get the numbers back up.
Wondering what we did wrong.

Sometimes with my kids, I get this desperate sort of feeling to try and remember their past.
To remember what they were like when they were small.
How they felt in my arms, how it felt for them to fall asleep on my shoulder,
how their feet made a noise in the middle of the night when they came in my room, across the hard wood floors to cuddle.

And I forget to live in the present, with the wonderful memories we are making right now.
I forget that it is right to celebrate who they are right now and to be with them
as they dream about tomorrow.
Kids have this great way about them, where they do dream about tomorrow and
what it will bring.  Desperately at times wanting to grow and leave the past behind.

Sometimes I feel like I am standing on shifting sand,
or like I am on the shore unsure of when high tide is coming in.
If I set up my spot here, will the tide wash away my towel and bucket and shovel?
Will my sand castle be taken out to sea? Or will it stand to see another day?
Maybe I shouldn't even be staying on the beach,
maybe the sea is the better place,
but then I get hit by the waves and I am reminded that there is so much in this world
stronger and bigger than me.  Which isn't all that bad to be reminded of.

Sometimes I feel like the only thing I have to hold onto are the people who come to worship,
and learn, and serve together along with the bible.
I suppose that it is all we really need.  God's word, God's presence and others that
have that same call in their lives.  To follow Jesus.


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