Monday, August 26, 2013

The Sands of Time

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.
--Anne R. Cousin

Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.
--George MacDonald

The sun is bright above me and I push her stroller up the old worn hill, the hill that’s been paved over and refreshed. The hill that my child and then adolescent and then teenager and now adult feet walk over. The hill that I used to patter down so many times to get to the Dairy Mart that used to be around the block. It’s not there anymore; things have changed in the neighborhood and somehow it’s just not the same, just not as simple as it was when I was little. Kids used to play outside then, used to ride their bikes and be happy and free in the sunshine. Now they’re all inside, humped over computers, staring vacantly at television screens. Things have changed; times have changed. A generation later, I push her sleeping quietness over the hill and the wind is gentle on our cheeks and she nods her head asleep and peaceful and I sigh and remember the days gone by.

The days gone by . . . some of them filled with golden, beautiful, silver-lined memories and some of them tear-stained and broken, etched with sadness. Life is like that . . . and so fleeting, like “the grass that withers and the flowers that fade.” We can’t cling to it too tightly; it slips through our fingers like water and we understand through the agonies of life that our hope is above, where Jesus is seated, “at the right hand of the Father.”

The Fall is coming . . . change is coming, into my life and I’ve always loved the Fall, sobered by the sadness of the dying, full of the wonder of the cycle of the seasons, the mystery of death and renewal and resurrection. I love the Fall because it signifies to me that before life comes death, the dying to self, the grain of wheat falling into the ground, into the darkness.

And then Winter when all is cold and bare and still and aching-cold, dying to be made alive, reborn and all flesh seems to wait in quiet expectancy, hushed by the crushing wind and the lingering snow.

And finally, Spring . . . and joy . . . my favorite season of all when Easter seems to be in the breath of the air and the dying has ended. Flowers that cover the earth and the mournful rejoice again and the birds sing the glory of the Father.

But for now, change, and there is a beauty to it and an ache, an ache when I think of leaving this place that I have called home for 31 years.

An ache when I realize that I’m growing older, that I’m not a teenager anymore; there are wrinkles and scars and stretch marks on the skin that used to be so unmarked by age and my stomach isn’t as flat anymore no matter how hard I try. I gave up walking on my treadmill—it used to be so important to me—now another life takes all of my time and if I walk, I walk with her. And there is joy. Joy as I realize that my home is not on this earth. Joy when I think of seeing Him and knowing Him in His beauty at last. Joy in leaving the old things behind, not because they were bad, but because the path is winding differently now, up another stretch, Glory ever before. The stretch of babies now and days filled with diapers and arms filled with a wiggly body and heart filled with love.

A peace comes over me as I walk up the hill, the final stretch home, the sun setting in the distance. And I think of Frodo Baggins and his words, ““How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep...that have taken hold.” And I think, that there are places and hurts and sorrows in this life that will linger, that only heaven can heal when He wipes every tear from our eyes. And the love of Jesus will fill us utterly, unspeakably, when we see Him, and swallow up change and tears. The healing waters and the trees, planted in His beautiful garden . . . the loveliness of Jesus, the Healer of our souls.

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