Warm days. Family picnics. Juicy watermelon. Sand castles and body surfing. Lightening bugs and county fairs. Summer! I always have such high expectations for this short season. Can’t wait for summer! Where did the ideal I dream of come from? Beach blanket movies? The Beach Boys music? (Okay – so now you know my age.) A happy childhood perhaps? Building forts in the woods, digging quahogs in the salt pond, swinging in Gramma’s hammock are some of my summer memories. My responsibilities consisted of age appropriate chores and no other worry in the world.
Looking back from an adult perspective, I see what my kid-self missed. Daddy working full-time in the hot mill, plus an additional two or three other jobs to feed his growing brood. Mommy recording every penny she spent in a small account book. The worry over aging parents and sick kids. The loss of loved ones. Some of the same concerns and tragedies that have intruded on my adult summers and left me longing for the innocence of childhood.
This spring has been filled with news of floods, tornadoes, forest fires and earthquakes. National tragedy and personal loss have already made a mark on my summer – and it’s only just arrived! My heart goes out to all those who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones. Summer will not be idyllic for so many as they struggle to rebuild lives ravaged by accidents, wind and water.
In Out of the Wilderness, there’s the fun of a bonfire on the beach, swims in the ocean, a ride on the carousel, but the threat of tragedy weaves through the happy times. Just as in real life.
Real life. A patchwork of happy days and sad times. Days filled with highs and lows of every measure. The distance between my expectations for summer and the reality grows wider with each passing year. There is no returning to the blissful summer days of my early years. God’s plan for me was not to stay forever young.
He knew since my conception what every summer of my life would hold. Some would have more rainy days than sunshine. This year may unfold with winds as gentle as butterfly wings or as destructive as a hurricane. God never promised only good times, but He did promise to always be with me and help me through the difficult times. And therein lies the joy I can claim. Being present in each circumstance while drawing on God’s mercy and grace.
I can’t return to what summer ‘used to be’, but I can move forward confident in God’s grace. Drawing my strength from Him, I can handle what comes my way and know that because He is merciful, He will give me new happy memories along the way.
Watermelon, any one?
What are your happy memories of summer?
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10