Some moments of your life crystallize in your memory with absolute clarity, often because they are associated with intense sorrow or shock. We’re all familiar with those moments, those arrows that rain in and change us forever. But others, perhaps more rare, are etched forever upon us because they are so sublime. You may not notice the impact they have immediately, but they, too, change us and link us to the goodness of being human and alive.
One Father’s Day my husband, Mac, and I made the hour drive from our home outside of Chicago to Indiana Dunes State Park for the day to have some fun and mark the day with something besides the typical chocolate cake, cards, and new summer shirts. We had never been there before, so it promised to be an adventure.
My mood was absolutely jubilant having just completed another year of teaching. I was beginning to feel the decompression of the free days of summer when family and household projects could take precedence over schoolwork; and yardwork outside replaced teaching in my windowless classroom. Mac had a “real job” and worked year round, but he shared my mood since we had both survived another long, frigid, grey Chicago winter. No one celebrates the onset of summer more than those in brutal winter climates!
Everything about that day carried with it almost dream-like qualities. Imagine a day of sunshine, mild breezes, and perfect skies. A shock to people just coming out of winter thermals, who need to squint at the intense light and clemency of life. So that sets the stage for the next part of my story. A story that has very little action. It’s just a snapshot of happiness.
After sticking our toes into Lake Michigan and finding it still rather cold, we climbed up one pinnacle of dune searching for a place to enjoy the afternoon. We found a spot just shy of one peak where some young people had gathered and someone was playing a guitar. We had managed to situate ourselves close enough to enjoy his serenade without intruding on the group. Mac and I scrunched down into the sand and let its coolness balance the sun’s warmth. Something about the day, the firmness of the supporting sand, and the distant laughter and chatter of others, gulls calling, the warmth, the freedom from labor, drew us into one of the best Sunday naps I’ve ever had. We were nestled together. We were surrounded by God’s simplest and greatest pleasures. We were together. We were at rest. Winter was over. Goodness cradled us. We were together.
That afternoon was a moment that graced my life. It came into existence and then moved on. We went about our lives. Strawberry picking, lawn mowing, packing for the family vacation, work, projects, dinners out, disappointments, and joys followed. And Mac’s battle with cancer was not far off, but none of these things came into our lives before this one remarkable day that left an indelible mark on both of us.