Our recent day trip to Denver was an exercise in endurance. We have discovered we are no where near 25 anymore.
Once upon a time, a time we thought would last forever, we could have done a marathon trip like this, grabbed a couple of hours of shut-eye, gotten up and done it all over again. I know this to be true, because we did it. Frequently. And that was with three small children and traveling twice the distance.
This time it was just Danny and me, leaving McCook in the early hours, heading due west, outrunning the sunrise with every tire rotation. The darkness seemed interminable.
The agenda had joy and sorrow woven throughout. First up was a funeral for the recently widowed Rosemary Haney. We attended her husband's funeral in April. Her passing took everyone by surprise and her eight surviving children were stunned to be in the now too-familiar funeral parlor, again. So were we. Even more stunning was the stillness. Danny likened Rosemary to a happy bee, buzzing from flower to flower, each in its season. She was never still. There was always some word of encouragement to share, an update to hear, a quick embrace or, when needed, an admonition. I kept expecting her to appear in the midst of her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren, only to remind myself, again, why we were there.
In the past few years, she got in the habit of running across the street, to the house where Danny grew up, housecoat billowing, with leftovers. After years of cooking supper for 12 or more, she often made "just a little more than we can eat without help."
As Charlie's health failed over the course of many months, he became the flower at the center of her universe. Still, like any busy bee, she was surrounded by flowers and none were ever found lacking. Her garden wasn't just metaphorical either. She was a gardener of extraordinary passion, her flowers were her pride and joy, rivaled only by her deep and abiding love of her dogs. And her birds. It's hard to imagine the inevitable changes that are coming to the neighborhood. I know it will never be the same.
We took time to visit with Danny's mom and Uncle Buck, then drove crosstown through traffic to meet my elder sister. She had corralled our youngest brother, Dean, as a surprise guest and the Village Inn Pancake House was filled with laughter as we reconnected after too many years apart.
Then it was time to embrace the darkness, through thunderstorms and cloudbursts of all things, finally headed home. Was there ever a more welcome sight than our own back door, our gray Boo Kitty plaintively meowing as he wove in and out of our legs, while we stumbled up the steps and made our way across the porch? Those last 10 miles seemed endless. But they always do. You know you're close, but you know you're not quite there.
We're still not there. It feels like life itself has become a marathon, home an elusive goal. And though we seldom venture outside the city limits, sometimes it feels like we've been on the road forever, still barreling through the darkness, outrunning the light.
Perhaps it's just that stage in our lives. Mom, our last surviving parent, still has more good days than bad, but failing health becomes more of an issue with each bad day.
The economy has laid low more than one extended family member during the recession and it's too soon to tell if anyone else will become a victim.
Two of our children, and their families, are in transition and it's unclear how things will turn out in the long run.
Perhaps it is the ever-deteriorating condition of our culture. These latest revelations from the WikiLeaks folks simply seem to underscore the depth of deception we live in day-by-day. Oh well, what's one more lie among friends?
We keep plugging along, doing what good we can each day, laying all of it at the foot of the cross at day's end, picking up whatever cross is before us when the next day dawns. It's all part of the training, all part of the testing, the refining of our faith, so that it emerges, tested, purified and found true.
"This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." Revelation 14:12 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.