As kids prepare to go back to school, we realize that the jeans that fit fine in May are halfway to their knees, and the tennis shoes are so worn and stained that they certainly won’t do for the first day of classes. The marks on the wall we made last August to record their height is two inches shorter than the one made this morning.
The voices are changing, too. The sound of that sweet child calling from his upstairs bedroom sounds strangely like a man; and the little girl that loved to wear her pink and lavender dress is bounding in to breakfast in brand new tattered and frayed jeans and an oversized tee shirt tied in a knot just above her navel, allowing a peak at her bare belly.
When did this happen? When did we go from holding a cuddly infant to dropping a child at kindergarten? And where went the time between kissing a second grader good night to hosting a pizza party for 14 teen-agers? How amazing, too, that we survived the turbulent years adolescence to enjoy these coming-back-home moments with responsible adults with kids of their own, parenting with wisdom that sometimes puts to shame my own bungling attempts at being wise and engaged.
I’m sitting on the porch today sensing hints of the season changing from summer to fall. The zinnias are tall and in full bloom of outrageous colors. I saw the first chrysanthemums at Welche’s Nursery this week, and the leaves of the giant maple beside the driveway gate are showing edges tinged in scarlet. That tree was just a sapling when we first poured the cement for the driveway. In fact, when we built this house and were still teaching English fifty-three years ago, we could still see my parents’ back deck across the creek. Now there is a forest of pines, maples, sycamores, oaks, and willows between us and what we now call the Creek House.
I readily confess that patience is not a natural virtue for me. But over the years of serving God, I have come to know that good things just take time. Tall, lush trees, an English garden, a good rich marriage, deep friendships, and responsible adult kids just take time, whether I’m patient or not. “And who of you by worrying,” asked Jesus “can add a single hour to your life?” But I am learning to sigh fewer sighs of exasperation because things aren’t moving as quickly as my limited perspective would like.
I am learning to trust the process and to “pull the camera back,” to see the bigger picture and not be so focused on the details of today. I am learning to pick my battles and save my “nos” for the big stuff. I am coming to realize that the promise to “work all things together for our good” means “good” from an eternal perspective; I am also learning that pain is often the shovel God uses to dig a wider, deeper capacity for holding what is eternal in the here and now.
And my impatient nature is finally relaxing in the trust that “good things just take time.”