I decided to wake up a little early.
Despite my best efforts to remain in the warm embracing fog of early morning slumber, I blinked my eyes a few time times and cracked them open just a bit, so that they revealed it was still dark outside.
The soft glow of light from the gaps in the closed bathroom door signaled my wife was getting ready for work.
I could hear the clicking of makeup containers as she prepared for another week. It would be an ordinary Monday for her. But as I sat up and popped my back a few times, left and then right, I realized that today would be very different for me.
I’m a stay at home dad, and it’s the first day of another school year for my two boys.
The end of summer is a permanent mile-maker for me. As with holidays, birthdays, losing a first tooth or learning to drive, the end of summer reminds me how fast time is slipping by.
It’s a proverbial black Sharpie checking off another year and writing a little note below it:
“Your boys are growing up. You’re getting older. Time is accelerating.”
For me, years have become mile markers in time that reveal a destination I’m not completely looking forward to. Someday soon, my boys will leave.
The house will become empty and quiet, and despite the joy of watching them begin to build their own lives, the pain will arrive as well; an unwelcome guest that will stay even though I try to slam the door.
In the quiet of the morning, I often recall frozen moments in time that seem to have occurred only days before. I smile at the joys and sometimes find myself laughing; confirmation that I’ve been a pretty good dad.
But I also feel the welling of tears when I reluctantly invite memories that I wish did not exist; ever present reminders that I could have done things differently.
As I grow older, time seems to have developed somewhat of a tangibility to it.
Like an invisible vehicle that carries us along from birth, time moves forward whether we want it to or not.
When I was a child, a year seemed an eternity.
But as I grew older, my focus would jet into the future, resting on events such as marriage, the birth of babies, career changes, graduations, grandchildren, retirement and eventually death. And as I reached forward for these mile-makers, time seemed to accelerate.
As we age, the realty of time changes our frame of reference on life and we lose something.
Is it any wonder why Jesus urges us to “become like little children”? (Matthew 18:2)
Could it be that as we gain perspective, we lose our view of the Kingdom?
I’ve noticed that my children enable me to see life through new eyes.
With only a few days of summer left, my boys and I ventured out for one final day at the beach. As we arrived, my 10-year-old and I quickly grabbed our towels and raced to the shoreline.
My 16-year-old decided to catch a few more winks in the car, earbuds in place and feet placed strategically upon the dashboard.
We made our way down to the water, and my youngest immediately jumped in. I chose the more reserved option of wading along the tide pools.
Feeling the warmth of the tide rolling in and out, I felt nostalgic.
Growing up on the South Texas Coast, the beach has always had an intoxicating assault on my senses.
The smells take me back to days when I was 10-years-old, and watching my son play transformed me into him. The breeze blew against my back and brought back memories of my teenage years and days filled with surfing until sunset.
I was suddenly my 16-year-old again, relaxing in a reclined car seat, a perfect peace and tranquility surrounded me and I longed to be confined into this particular moment forever.
This moment a reminder that time is fleeting, but each moment is precious.
As the tide continued to move over my feet, I felt as if my scenes were conversing with the sea. Each warm embrace of the oceans liquid breath brought a new memory. But it also brought a heaviness as I realized no one is 16-years-old forever, and I was transformed again.
Watching my son frolic in the waves without a care in the world, I deeply aware of the way time changes things, and I wished the moment could last forever.
Would he play with such youthful abandon next year?
Holy and sacred was this brief period of time and thanks to God began pouring from my heart. His Kingdom invaded the natural world.
Matthew 6:34 says, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Perhaps we can do nothing to subdue the passage of time. But if we slow down, stop at more rest stops and take in the scenery at least for a few moments each day, we just might begin to see the world as children again.
And maybe that’s what the Kingdom of God is all about.
[Photo: kevin dooley, Creative Commons]