Just like that and summer comes to a close.
Arriving on time, autumn slips through the screen door right around Labor Day weekend.
And all those endless sundrenched days of July and August strung like daisies seem to end in a blurry blinding bright spot in my memory.
We held a small memorial for a little creature whose ability to receive love taught us all a big lesson: to love is to name is to care is to keep. It is to mourn and to cry, too; and it is to continue to create and care about the living and the dying and the not-yet-born.
One does not need to do anything remarkable to be an object of love. One only needs to be that which it is – cat, boy, mom, dad, human, alive.
God sees you.
He is keeping track of the misery you endure.
Your very tears are catalogued and counted.
And God will rise up to help you.
Can we say with David: It is God’s word I praise and in Him I trust and I am not afraid? Can we say it, too? Even with quivering voice, a touch of fear, or a cloud of doubt, can we speak it out loud into the dark?
Of course, I sat there wishing it were me in the papery gown, making small talk with the technician, feeling the needles press through my skin and tissue with their numbing serum. I wish she were in the waiting room, or better yet, off at school or work or eating too many Oreos with her roommates. I wish she hadn’t felt a lump or spent time searching the internet for possible diagnoses. I wish cancer wasn’t even a fleeting thought in her beautiful brain.
But friend, the Joy of the Lord is My Strength. It is my muscle and ligament, my throbbing heart and my contracting diaphragm. The joy (all hope, all purpose, all mercy) is my life, even when I have absolutely no strength of my own. It is the skeleton of my faith and the skin of my hope. It is the realest reality I’ve ever known.
The canoe was metaphor, the cottage a symbol and the lake is an altar – only temporary images of the substance of the faith that enabled us to journey this far and the joy that carried us in powerful arms when we couldn’t walk upright from the wreckage of our lives.