I was born somewhere in the cut-grass, berry-ripe heat of a 1970’s June.
Thinking back to my childhood, I catch blips and glimpses of cold winter nights around the wood-burning stove, the heavy army-issue blanket nailed to the archway to keep the heat from drifting past us. Of course I remember Christmas Eves, snow forts, ambitious paint-by-number projects and jigsaw puzzles engineered at the rickety card table in the Warm Room.
There were leaf piles and school supplies and the hopeful lips of tulips kissing straight through the frosty earth.
All of it rests at the periphery. It’s fuzzy at the edges, hollow in the center, a basket holding the bulk of my youth, somehow wrapped and folded into three sticky months as though they were all there ever was. I remember the other nine, but my three chosen ones or, rather, the three that chose me, are stitched in and through me, clean intersections and whirling, dizzying loops.
I was made for summer.
I’m still the little girl slipping down the soapy length of plastic salvaged on a lark from the hay mow. I am angel food cake with strawberries in a Styrofoam bowl. I’m stacks of library books in a plastic lounger under the tall oak, a bowl of cherries at my fingertips. I’m corn fields and sun-tan oil. An eager garden weeder. I’m fireflies at dusk.
Only now, I’m also 38 years old with a marriage, a mortgage, four children of my own, and several more who light up my days and evenings with the pulsing emotional current of real life.
An average summer day now finds me negotiating, managing, organizing, entertaining, refereeing, and wiping up more spills and messes than I ever remember making back when I was on the “giving” end of this equation.
I’ll be honest: some days it’s hard to remember that this is where the best of me lives.
I want to give my kids the gift of all I had, but there aren’t any creeks to wade through in the city and we don’t have a single shade tree. Now what?
It seems the charm of a wonky black-and-white TV and grocery shopping late at night because it’s too humid to sleep can get lost somewhere, twisted into the vortex of a Wi-Fi signal or numbed by the central air.
But outside my window kids whiz by, a tangle of scooters and roller-skates. A symphony of squeals.
Their chins track syrupy trails of cherry and grape. Their heads are sweaty. Their hearts might belong to a different season, but right now, they’re full of summer. The details are different, but the memories are the same.
I’ve heard rumors that the glory days are past us, that our children will suffer a lesser childhood. I don’t think that’s right.
I think God’s best is this right here, right where our messes collide with his grace, free from the oil-slick mirage of nostalgia. I think He’s busy writing the stories for the sidewalk scooter posse. I think the ink is still wet on my story. And yours. We’re crafted in wonder, cast in His goodness, placed with purpose in time and place.
My summers look different now. They ask more of me. But for better or worse, we’ll throw the windows open some days just to let the heat lull us into the bliss of boredom.
In between playing judge and jury, life coach and line cook, I’ll stop to remember I’m still that little girl with nose plugs standing at the end of the high dive when I barely know how to swim.
This life is an adventure. It’s oh so good to us.
Some things change but who God made us to be never does.
July closes in, a sweaty hug. Take a look around you. This is your life right now and it needs you.
Choose to hug it back.
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