Tonight we sit under strings of lights in the middle of a shopping mall parking lot. We have chocolate peanut butter shakes from Five Guys, and we are giddy on them. These are the last days of August, and hints of fall are blowing into our lives just as gathering storm clouds band together in steel and navy above us.
The lightening strikes, but we don't worry. It's far enough away so we can grab Instagram boomerangs and my mom can snap book stack photos. There's enough space to sit and feel the summer wind playing around our faces. It's pleasant, with the faintest kiss of the season to come.
September is just around the corner. My favorite month. But this summer is worth lingering to remember.
We road tripped with friends, went to writers' conferences and Bible Bee alumni reunions, slept in gloriously, and continued our education in Marvel. We named succulents after the Avengers, discovered a little dessert cafe, lingered on the shores of Lake Michigan, and talked with friends about homeschooling. We made decadent strawberry frosting and drove a new car and watched Disney films we never saw when they came out.
My laptop was sent away for repairs. I started taking the wheel solo again after car accidents earlier this year. I hugged the ones I loved, tackled math long forgotten from high school, and wrote a literature guide for my students this fall. I added words upon words upon words to War of Honor and started volunteering at the church we love.
The grace is staggering.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on....Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Jesus says.*
We studied this Matthew passage earlier this year. My sister made the comment from it that God cares for things that will be destroyed, can't earn their food, and can't praise him for it--a gratuitous beauty, she points out (a term originally coined by artist Makoto Fujimura). While parts of this winter and spring felt like a desert place of waiting, this summer held a gentle rain of that gratuitous beauty. Those little things that will be destroyed. The things we cannot earn. But the steady stream of a Father's love that even in the transient memories, imprints its joy on our hearts.
Tonight as we sip our Five Guys shakes, the far away lightening flickers near enough to send us back to our van. We've just come from our favorite bookstore where we turned in summer reading lists. I almost didn't sign up this year. Early this winter I felt a quiet sense that it would not be the year where I got a lot of reading done. But I did sign up, and I'm glad. Those ten books found their way to differerent areas of my heart, nurturing writing (Story Trumps Structure, Steven James) trust in God (Trust, Lydia Brownback) beloved old friends (Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson) making decisions in grace (The Next Right Thing, Emily Freeman) gut-wrenching honesty about disappointment and faithfulness (Remember God, Annie F. Downs) and the work of a recent hero (The Big Book of Beatrix Potter). They poured in during the school off-season, and they will bear fruit when time to read is more rare and precious.
Speaking of rare and precious, I miss this blog dearly. I miss the Tuesday and Friday posts I wrote every week without fail. But I hope this place can be like a phone call with a friend after the two of you have grown older--sweet when it comes, and nonetheless glad for the absence. I don't have plans to go anywhere. I'd love to come back regularly. I'll just have to wait and see how that can happen again. In the meantime, I have some things coming your way which will be a joy to pass on to you--a website and newsletter goodies I've been designing thanks to Katie Phillips' expert tutelage; and of course, a sequel to War of Loyalties which will come as soon as it is full grown.
We are entering the days of purpose with the upcoming school year. There will be stacks of homework and new rhythms to embrace. But a few days of freedom remain. On the way home from our shakes, a white church spire stands tall against a freshly washed sky. Further up towards home, orange and purple cluster along the horizon like an artists' canvas. The end of these days is a quiet revel of bright memories. The end of these days is grace.
*Matthew 6:26-27, ESV