I watched my youngest daughter, Macy, graduate from Bradley University yesterday. Like most parents witnessing such transition moments, I wondered out loud, “Where did the time go?” Weren’t we just bringing that little girl home from the hospital? With us at the graduation were Macy’s living grandparents, Jerry, Trish, and Sherry. I wonder what they thought as they watched another grandchild grow-up and take flight. Probably something about time and it’s passing, and perhaps a few moments captured along the way. Also with us was our oldest daughter, Madison, and her16 month old son, Fulton. Consumed with three little ones, and another on the way, I suspect that time is simply a blur for her in this moment.
Every parent knows what I’m talking about. The horizon seems to go-on forever, until suddenly, it isn’t so distant. Watching Fulton run around with no words and boundless curiosity, the time conundrum seemed a little less mysterious as I realized that he was able to make time stop. At least if we let him. Fully present in every single moment, he simply lived: happy, sad, excited, hungry, uncomfortable, curious, tired, humorous, or impatient. For him, there is no past nor future, just the now. At least for now.
For me, much of life seems a blur. During my thirty years as a parent, everything seemed centered on what was next: having children, the first steps, the first words, school, sports, friends, dating, driving, graduations, jobs, marriage, grandchildren. We always seemed to be in the building process, always aiming for something more. Career. Finances. Houses. The next baby. The kids kept it rolling along, rapidly.
Suddenly, the building years tipped into something different. Our roles as parents shifted as did our pursuits and priorities. A sense of inevitability started to set-in as we realized that the horizon was not endless and that our lives as mom and dad would evolve into something else. The sand is still shifting as we walk along this new stretch of beach, now parents of four college graduates.
Looking at all of those young graduates sitting on the floor of Peoria’s Civic Center, I thought of the world of possibilities lying before them. I suspect that most of them were thinking of the world of parties lying before them.
Glimpse of Heaven
Walking into a U-Haul store later in the day for some supplies, I encountered an exuberant clerk who seemed to be enjoying life. He noticed that we drove a Yukon and wanted to tell me about his Suburban, a vehicle he felt is great for carting his growing family around. The father of four, he had gotten a late start but was loving parenthood and all of its adventures. “I was a slow learner, and foolish in my youth,” he said, “But I’ve learned the joy of fatherhood!” He smiled broadly, and his voice had the passion and energy of an evangelist. I felt converted, and couldn’t help but smile back.
Walking out of the store, I thought, “that was a glimpse of heaven.” His joyfulness was heavenly. We live in a world of incredible beauty. Sometimes the beauty can be hidden behind ugliness. Suffering can also blur our vision, but the beauty is still there. If we’re attentive, we’ll get the glimpse: a smile, a sunset, a touch, a win, a moment. A one-year-old laughing as we tickle him. Glimpses.
We’re all lost in the blur to some degree. We find ourselves chasing kids, chasing dreams, and occasionally chasing our tails, while time marches on, unseen. Along the way, the glimpses of heaven also come and ago, often unseen. The blur hides many things.
Stop for a moment today and look for your own glimpse of heaven. It may appear in the innocent wonder of a child, the hug from an old friend, the touch of your love, the color of the sky, the words of a song, or in the peace of an arrival. Hold it as long as you can, and let it go. Then, promise yourself you’ll be ready for the next one.