Life right now is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.
This is the day that brings us nearest to that time and place when “there will be no more night” (Rev. 22:5).
But even the night is brighter than most. As the ripe moon rises, it scatters the last few tattered clouds until it shines like silver in our faces.
“Look!” I tell my two-year-old nephew. “A strawberry moon!”
“Yes, Auntie Christie,” he says. “A watermelon moon!”
We wander down the avenue while fireflies come out to play. They buzz and snap. It is a fireworks extravaganza for the fairies.
My sister catches one in her hand, and we crouch, there, on the edge of the driveway, with firefly light in our eyes.
One more night, and I sit with my four children at a memorial service for a child.
The room is decorated with twinkle lights. We are indoors, but here is the night sky. Here are the summer fireflies.
After the songs, and the words, and the prayers, we step outside and into the setting sun. Everyone holds golden balloons on golden strings until – a whistle and a cry – we let them fly.
“These balloons are for you, Adam!”
“Balloons! For you!”
The kitchen is filled with balloons.
“Happy birthday!” they say. “Happy birthday,” everyone sings.
It is my birthday. It is my son’s birthday.
“This is the day, more than any other, when I confront the ties of love that bind me to the living and the dead. The old world and the new” (Roots and Sky, p. 174).
Death, where is your sting? What victory do you have?
You are so small I cannot even see you. You are blotted out by this bright summer light.
But, Life, oh, Life. You are so full. You are as weighty as the dropping sun. You are as sharp as the silver moon. You dazzle my eyes, and you break my heart.
Like the Israelites of old, when I see the fire and the glory belonging to the Lord of Life, what can I do?
What can I do but kneel with my face to the ground, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever” (2 Chron 7:3).
Three posts for you on my birthday:
In A Land of Small Wonders (written for Emily P. Freeman)
Why I Give Thanks On My Birthday
How exquisitely you capture that tensile thread between grief and joy! Some people might think it is too much to hold both things in your hand (and head, and heart) at once…but someone else once wrote that seeing the truth in two warring ideas might actually be a mark of genius…
I think it’s the mark of (hard-won) wisdom, at least.
Have you read Gifts from the Sea? It feels like it could be a close cousin to your Roots & Sky.
Such thoughtful, encouraging words. Thank you, Becky. And Gifts from the Sea is one of my favorite books!
Christie, Happy Birthday! My 40th was last week and all I asked for was your book Roots and Sky. I finished it today. I likely wouldn’t have had so much time to read if my baby hadn’t needed me to nurse her and stay while she napped all this week. A cold or teething or both? But a gift. There were so many paragraphs that leaped at me. This is our first month in our new home. We have rented for so long and are finally putting down roots. Our home is over 100 years old in a small town. Far away from either of mine or my husband’s families. The yard is a clean slate so I have dreamed much while reading your journey of coming home to Maplehurst. May God abundantly bless you this year. Thank you for Roots and Sky. I have several women I will gift it to. ?
Happy birthday, Sarah! June birthdays are the best, aren’t they? I am so glad you enjoyed Roots and Sky, and I am glad you’ve joined me here at my “virtual” home. Wishing you well in your new home, C