Two things from my morning drive to work.
First, I turned up the heat in the car for the first time this fall. I always love this first. Something about that warm air cutting the cold, the smell of the heater, ah! I only run it a bit, because I actually prefer the cold.
Second, I did a little weeping.
When Noah first entered preschool, I drove him to school each day. At first, I considered this a hassle, because it meant I had to leave earlier each morning, and that meant less sleep.
As the days and weeks went along, I realized what a boon I’d received, and cherished those precious quiet moments with my young firstborn son.
We laughed, and talked, and enjoyed one another.
When that year came to an end, I reflected how lucky I’d been, and grieved the passing of the blessed moment in my life.
Skip ahead a little over a decade, and Noah is attending High School on the same campus, and it fell to me, again, to be his ride. So, for all of last year and the first few weeks of this, I’ve spent ten morning minutes with nearly grown Noah each school day.
Particularly toward the end of last year and beginning of this, the rides haven’t always been smooth. I wasn’t the one driving, and he was just a beginner.
Some near misses, jumped curbs, honked horns, and missed lights. To my dismay, also a good bit of yelling on my part.
I’m a terribly impatient passenger, and probably not the best driving instructor.
A couple of weeks ago, we had one of those tough rides, where I was correcting everything Noah did wrong on the road, and it dawned on me.
Your morning rides with this precious child are almost at an end. Shut up, and love him.
Today, we had a couple of near collisions and missed yet another light. I joked that Noah wanted to make this last morning ride memorable.
I prayed for him, thanked God for my precious son, and also for this second surprise season of daily rides in the car.
A little less than thirty years ago, I was riding shotgun in my pops old beat up ford pickup, and I felt tired. I’d been landscaping each summer, for my dad and it was grueling (though satisfying) work.
I was contemplating a job change, and quick.
Then, I looked across at my dad, who, despite the general social exuberance he was known for, was often reticent on those rides. We were between the nursery and a job, carrying trees, mulch, and plants.
Every Friday, his off day from church, we worked together in the soil.
How many young adult men get to hang out with and work alongside a dad they love and respect, every single Friday?
This was a blessing to be savored.
The breeze coming in through my rolled down window was tempering the effects of an Oklahoma summer day’s heat. I smiled, thought to myself – I’ll enjoy these days a little longer. Once they’re gone, they may be gone for good.
John Wayne Kilgore left us too soon, already a decade and a half ago. Those truck ride Fridays are some of my sweetest memories.
This morning, I cried some tears, partly because another good, blessed gift of time with my son was over.
These were also tears of joy, for though we had some tense moments, mostly we enjoyed one another’s company and got to know each other better.
This week, I read a heartening poem by William Stafford, former poet laureate of Oregon, entitled “For People With Problems About How to Believe.”
He talks there about this kind of awareness of the passing, momentary blessings in our lives-
“…a quality of attention has been given to you: when you turn your head, the whole world leans forward. It waits there thirsting after its names, and you speak it all out as it comes to you; you go forward into forest leaves holding out your hands, trusting all encounters, telling every mile ‘take me home.’”
This morning, after feeling the car’s first blast of heat, after wiping those sweet tears, I rejoiced in the grace I’ve received to savor the fleeting beauty of this life.
There is suffering all around us, yes, but there is also beauty, and joy. I hope some will lean forward into your day, and I hope you’ll be attentive, “holding out your hands.”
"Examine all things; hold on to the good."
-Saint Paul the Apostle