And I wrote not a single syllable.
I sat down at my desk, logged onto my computer to take care of some online banking, and quickly became distracted by the pile of file folders next to me and on the floor. As one who wears the label organized with no small measure of pride, I find piles of clutter mess with my psyche in profoundly disturbing ways. I blame the piles for the shower date mix-up.
In order to make space for my folders, I had to weed through many which had resided in the deep file drawer since my daughter had used the desk as a high school student. I unearthed homeschool records, transcripts, and letters of recommendation; copies of applications for colleges and scholarships, and several years’ worth of support letters from short-term mission projects in which both of my children had participated. I pitched catalogs from which I had ordered school uniforms for my son. I shredded outdated copies of FAFSA forms
As I sorted piles of paperwork representing years of my children’s histories, I was completely unprepared for the effect my little archaeological dig would have on my heart.
I found a copy of the speech my daughter had written in her seventeen-year old voice, one she had intended to deliver at her graduation party though she never did. She had composed words of appreciation for teachers and mentors, and pastors and friends, who had walked with her throughout her childhood and taught her about music and life and faith.
I uncovered the letter she had received from the admissions office of the college she attended, the one notifying her of her acceptance. I had forgotten how personalized the letter was, the admissions officer having taken care to quote excerpts from recommendations written on her behalf. I pictured myself holding the envelope while sitting in the parking lot of a bus station as I waited in her little silver Subaru for her to return from a weekend trip. I recalled the mix of emotions I felt as she opened the letter— both pride in her acceptance and disappointment that my first choice of colleges was not also hers. Her decisions about college and life were beginning to diverge from mine, yet they turned out to be okay and they turned out to be good.
Programs from Baccalaureate services from both high school and college were tucked away in files next to one another. Graduation announcements, napkins, confetti, and other memorabilia tumbled out of another folder. I found a picture of my daughter, dressed in her high school cap and gown, posing in front of the Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry tree in my front yard.
As each folder and every paper passed through my fingers, I remembered how important each had seemed at the time. Each signified major turning points; each represented years of doubts, fears, questions, and prayer. Everything which had once seemed monumental had, over time, eased into its place of proper proportion. I held onto a few of the treasures I unearthed, choosing several to pass along to my kids, but not many.
As I look out the window from where I sit here at my writing desk, I can see the Snow Fountain tree about to reach full flower. Each year I look forward to the beauty of its blossoms; each year its blooming is bittersweet. No sooner do its flowers fully extend than they begin to fade away and fall to the ground. Six seasons of blooms have passed since my daughter posed in front of this tree in her cap and gown.
Time goes by and seasons pass. I filter once important papers through my hands. Former milestones yield their way to greater glories. And all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.*
*From yesterday’s call to worship. Joining Michelle, Laura, and Jen and the sisterhood.