I'm folding fresh laundry, soft and sweet, praying for the child who will fill the T-shirts, sports pants and fleece pajamas. I pull Gabe's favorite shirt from the still-warm tumble. It's made of white nylon. A basketball shirt. Like Grant's.
And it takes me back to summer.
Back to Michigan.
Back to a picnic on Grand Traverse Bay.
"Don't wear that shirt," Lonny had said, in the morning, as the boys tugged on their clothes. "We're stopping for Michigan cherries and your shirt won't survive."
But Gabe hadn't listened. He'd wanted to wear the shirt.
The lure was strong.
So we found our spot in the sun that day. The water glistened. The breeze rumpled our blanket. The boys ran along the beach, laughing and and pressing their toes in the sand. I unloaded our basket. We sat down to lunch.
And Gabe delved in to the fresh-from-the-stand cherries. They were ripe and sweet. Juice rolled down small, tan arms in rich rivers
and spattered his very best shirt.
Deep, dark stains that wouldn't come clean.
When he saw the stains, Gabe's eyes went wide. They pooled deep with tears.
And he looked down, broken and sad and ashamed.
"It's ruined," he said.
Repentance and regret. In little-boy sobs.
After lunch, Lonny pulled the GPS from under the seat. "We'll look for the store," he said. "To get Gabe another shirt."
Child centered, I thought. To drive around, van to-the-hilt with brothers, to spend this time, chasing a store and a shirt.
But today, as I fold that memory to a tidy square, running my fingers over warm fabric that's fresh and clean and white, I have a small understanding of
a father's love
and I understand that sometimes
a father goes to any length
to remove the sin-stain of his child.
Thank you, Father, for the love offering I'll never fully understand. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me from my sin and stains.
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18