Here are a couple of related re-posts that I think you will like, especially those of you who are experiencing the nest emptying out. If you are a young parent you might want to take a quiet moment and listen to this story or read it.
Here is the title story from my book Sunset on Summer. Download and enjoy. Let me know what you think.
Sunset on Summer
Thanks to Daniel for producing the podcast.
Things are changing fast. I am sailing away at a clip from my youth into uncharted waters they call “mid-life.” I am finding it bittersweet. I used to have so many plans. I still do. But now along with the plans I have memories like treasured photos of children who have grown up or places that have grown sacred.
One memory that will never fade from my mind took place on Labor Day our last year all together under one roof as a family. The next summer our first born son Kyle would leave for a year of missionary service and then it would be off to college a continent away.
We had spent the day together in the yard working in the herb garden, grilling out, reading, talking, and sipping lemonade. We played a little touch football, Mom standing guard with a water hose to make sure no one trespassed into her flower beds. Toward evening we all agreed to drive to Grand Haven and watch the sun set on Lake Michigan.
In a resort town like Grand Haven the whole atmosphere changes after Labor Day. When we arrived it was cool and fall-like. The sun was falling steadily into the lake. We strode quickly trying to reach the lighthouse before the sun disappeared. As we walked the sun touched the horizon and then steadily sank from sight. Walking along more than once I heard someone say, “That was over so fast.” Everyone had gathered and waited to see the last sunset of summer and they were talking about how quickly the sun had set. All I could think about walking out toward the sunset with my precious first-born son was about how quickly the sunset on summer had come.
The whole family gathered at the foot of the lighthouse on the end of the pier and watched the sky turn golden-orange. A few boats growled into the harbor for the evening. A ship sat out on the horizon moving imperceptibly slow going who-knows-where. Gentle waves lapped the rocks. Occasionally a bigger wave spouted up in spray and mist. The wind swept strong over the point and we all stood close to keep each other warm. There was a sweetness in the air. My heart grew tender and alive to the world around me.
My mind went back through the years with my son. They passed swift as a summer- short as a sunset. We went to a few ball games together. We camped out together a few times. Together we gazed into a few campfires. Together we floated a few rivers. We went fishing a few times. We washed the car together a few times. I taught him to tie a tie, shake hands, and drink his coffee black. I taught him the books of the Bible. I taught him to ride a bike and a few days later I taught him to drive. Together we laughed and cried. We loved a couple of dogs together, together we buried them, and together we hurt. Together we tried to understand the mysteries of life and love. A few times we walked together under a full moon in awe at the wonder of God’s world. Together we sang and prayed and worshipped God. And soon, for the first time, we would go on– but not together. The reality of it settled in on me that night on the pier.
As the purple of night pushed in on the pale blue and orange twilight we turned and made our way back. Kyle was holding his little sister Hope. She was giggling over his shoulder at her mother when suddenly she said “Momma” for the first time. Lois was delighted and her eyes glowed. Hope looked back with the same lively brown eyes. One child ready to go make his way in the world was carrying another just learning to talk.
When we reached the boardwalk we all turned and saw the lighthouse and pier lights blinking red against the dusk. A string of white harbor lights lined the catwalk. The afterglow of the sun cast the lighthouse and the pier light in a sharp black silhouette. Stars appeared in the growing darkness overhead. Lovers held one another or walked hand-in-hand. Fishermen packed up their gear and sauntered toward shore. Children climbed on the rocks. Everyone made toward shore along the lighted walkway.
In an hour we had watched the sun set on summer and turned toward autumn with a life-long memory in our hearts. I felt the pain that always comes with love and my soul whispered; “Breathe deep, walk slow, hold tight to those you love, the sun is setting and it will be over so fast.”
Whenever I think back on that evening I hear the words again and again, “That was over so fast.”