By Jeff Keeling
I don’t remember precisely all the details surrounding it, but the epiphany came sometime around 2004. I was driving one of our kids to yet another practice, lesson or event in our trusty 2000 Honda Odyssey minivan, grumbling inwardly about the all-too-frequent interruptions to my workdays or evenings as I schlepped 14-year-old Zach here and 11-year-old Sydney there.
I don’t know why it hit me, but I’m thankful it did: the recognition that these days would be past in the blink of an eye. Stressful, mundane and seemingly unrewarding as they might be, they were a gift. Letting irritation over their inconvenient details override my gratitude was foolish, if not positively sinful. I knew what the Psalmist wrote: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
A cluttered van and our cluttered lives; the children’s stumbles and their triumphs; the pains and joys of life together: these things were so fleeting, and so sweet if I would just savor them as I journeyed toward a permanent home. That moment in the van has stuck with me ever since, though I haven’t always maintained the proper perspective as the years have passed and the kids have become adults.
The epiphany’s importance has come front and center in recent weeks. Sydney, successfully graduated from college and set to begin a teaching career in Chattanooga in a few months, will join in holy matrimony Saturday with her love Logan Hester. It is a union about which we and the older Hesters are pleased and thankful, and we anticipate a full, rewarding life for the young Hesters.
Needless to say, though, the runup to the nuptials has had no shortage of details that seem rather extraneous to me but are clearly consequential to the bride-to-be. My wallet seems to be losing heft faster than one would think possible, and the mother-daughter “moments,” shall we say, aren’t always filled with sweetness and light.
Yet all will be well, and even all just described above is beautiful and proper in its own way. And so I endeavor to ride through it all with a good attitude and a happy heart, for the wind will have blown it past us before we know it.
As Sydney and Logan enter a life together, I am comforted by the Psalmist’s follow-up to his admonition about the brevity of our earthly days: “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him…”