Monday, July 30, 2012

On One of Those Moments

Around the time the sun began to fall over the trees he would tell me we were going on an adventure. I would grin from ear to ear, run to get my shoes on. Though there was little mystery in the destination of this adventure for me, I always loved that he made it into a big deal. Sometimes, I even pretended I didn't know where we were going. Mostly because he loved to surprise me. And I loved that he loved—that it meant he loved me.

Looking back, I guess the constant stream of alcohol flowing through his veins really did make this adventure new each time in his mind. But I remembered. But still, I loved it.

Windows down, hair streaming across my face. Cigarette in his hand, we were off. A quick stop at his gas station, the one where they called him boss and responded with yes Sir, a rarity in these northern parts. They respected him. Over-sized {jam-packed with sugar} slushy in my hand, our adventure continued.

Just up the road and a few turns later we would slow down. The curvy road weaved throughout thousands upon thousands of white headstones. We weren't here to see dead people. Or to cry over a lost loved one, though I did often see people doing so. The men (and women) buried across these grounds were all war heros, brought home here to be laid to rest. Sort of eerie, when you think of our adventure climaxing at a place full of dead people.

I don't often remember thinking that in my little girl mind though. I remember gazing across the sea of white rocks, always attentive with my head out the window as we crept along. Sun blazing closer and closer to the ground, a little more brilliant and beautiful with each tick of the clock. Then, just on the edge of the sea of white, coming out from the tress all attentive and hungry we would see one. Then two. Then a whole herd.

I loved when there were babies. "Look at that little one!" I would point my hand far out into the air as his foot would come down firm on the brake pedal. Courtney, do you remember what we call those? He would ask. "Oh yeah, they're fawns, right dad? Baby deer are fawns." Yes, that's right. "And those big ones with the horns—those are the dads right?" I would ask. Yes, those are the bucks. he replied.

Knowing the answer didn't change the fact that I loved hearing him tell me again. It didn't change the fact that I tasted his love for me in these moments. I was starving. A rare and spectacular glimpse into a life I longed to have—life with a daddy who took me on adventures just because. This daddy daughter experience breathed into the depths of my emptiness, this hunger for his affection that I still struggle to satisfy well into adulthood.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done. I ponder the works of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like parched land. Ps. 143:5-6

Last night, we were driving along in the big white van, headed home from a goodbye party of a close friend and her hubby. Little voices in the back began to cry out, "A buck daddy, theres a buck! There's another one!" As the car slowed to a stop and began backing up, the boys climbed over the rows of seats to get to the front, real close to daddy, up in his lap, pointing out the open window, pure bliss in their eyes. For a good ten minutes or so, we sat there, in the middle of the gravel road, watching this huge herd of deer. The little voices overwhelmed in excitement, surely still talking about how many bucks, fawns and does they saw in a single night even as their heads met the pillow.

Watching these little ones hunger for this moment with their dad and the deer awoke that little girl in me too. Upon reaching the safety of home, I ventured out into the darkening field and wept.

I think there is a legitimate and appropriate grieving that takes place when we lose something—something we were created to need, at that. This time, the tears weren't so painful or so personal. They weren't as angry. They didn't lead into hours or days of introspection. They were simply little girl longings, teenage emptiness unfulfilled, and adult needs finally being met by incredible grace, dripping down my cheeks.

The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. -Ps. 146:9

As the tears fade, the Truth rushes in. Grace a-flowing. So, even while I grieve a whole lot of daddy daughter moments lost, I also rejoice in this sweet memory of watching deer. I rejoice in watching these little ones making this memory for the first time tonight. I rejoice that at the same time they will never have to grieve these moments lost, mine are being restored. Unfathomable grace. As the tears drain cups of the messiness of my past, relentless mercy washes new like a flood, and sitting crouched in the itchy grass, darkness abounding I lift my eyes to hills from where my help does come, from the Maker of heaven and earth.

Sometimes, life is so messy we forget to look for the deer. So for today, grace is simply slowing down to count the bucks and thank Him for it.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. -Ps. 144:1-2

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