The tulip poplar leaves are just beginning to emerge – tiny hands waving at the cobalt sky. I consider their short lives. For six fleeting months, they greet the dawn with their flapping waves. When October comes they’ll grow worn and weathered, thick and leathery, and they’ll fall black to the deck, swept away by the autumn winds or the broom that comes to prepare the worn boards for winter.
Six months isn’t long to stand under the sun, to dance wildly in the breeze, to laugh in the rain. Six months feels so fleeting – like a vapor.
You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away, James writes. We’re much the same. These tiny waving leaves and my oh-so-short life. Am I really using it well, I wonder as I watch the shadows flitter on the pollen-smeared boards. Am I wishing away these days that will never come back? Am I chasing something that’s been right here all along?
How do I live this one life well?
A red-winged black bird glides over the field behind the house, and our caged quail calls for a mate. I turn the pages for words about how to live this day to its fullest, and I find them: This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Could it be so simple? I ponder the implications of these words and strain to apply them to my life:
I will acknowledge that the Lord has brought this day to pass. I’ll receive it all as grace and count the blessings and the trials as grace. Unmerited favor. His hand working all things for his ultimate glory and my ultimate good. I’ll give thanks for the muffins baked in the light of early morning, and I’ll give thanks for the little hands that drop all dozen eggs in the middle of the kitchen floor. I’ll choose to believe that the long line of traffic is all part of some divine plan, and I’ll leave space in my days to talk to strangers. I’ll hurry less and take photos of flowers in the yard.
I will rejoice. I will rejoice when we hold hands on the way to meet the bus, all three of us linked together in love, and I’ll rejoice when the littlest one falls down on the way back to the house. I’ll rejoice over the food in the cupboard and the crumbs scattered across the kitchen floor, imitating the line of ants that will soon carry them away. I will rejoice as I wipe fingerprints from the faucets and smudges from the mirrors.
I will be glad in it. I will be glad in the midst of this actual day. I will be glad because I’ll see God in it. I’ll see him in the leaves bursting forth from the poplar tree. I’ll see him in the eyes of the delivery man when he comes with his tired shoulders and forced smile. I’ll see him in the tenderness of my child and the frustration of the computer software that refuses to download. I will know that he loves me in all my imperfections and that he is my great reward. I will cease from striving and refuse to live in a hurry. I’ll leave dishes in the sink and dirt on the floor. I will commit to do whatever I do with my whole heart, as unto the Lord, and I won’t worry about what I can’t do. I’ll believe the best about other people and refuse to dwell on negative thoughts. I’ll let go of grudges and let go of what I cannot change. In all the letting go, I will be glad.
I commit to embrace the days in a different way, here on the threshold of spring bursting into summer. I commit to be all here, to live fully, to still myself and know . . .
The breeze picks up, and the poplar leaves point heavenward – tiny hands, praising their Maker.
Scriptures: James 4:14, Psalm 118:24 NASB