The family is gathered. There's a fire, and we're circled close. We're all here, and there is joy. It's peaceful and easy, being together. Autumn has thrown a ground cover of gold and the air is thick with the season.
I look at the faces around the circle.
My heart is full.
And I no sooner whisper a praise of thanksgiving when the sadness begins. It's my signature struggle. It's sadness and worry and fret that everyone is growing too fast. Time is spinning and my boys are changing and it's suddenly as though sadness has pulled up a chair and joined our family circle. I feel the beat of time in my heart. I see it on their faces.
I love growing closer to the man God gave me.
But I love it so much that I'm tight-fisted. I love it so much I don't want to let go. I love it so much that fear of losing it has come to steal my joy.
When we moved to this big, old house, Sam was still a babe. I watch him now, steadying his roasting stick above the fire. He's chatting with an older brother. It's a grown-up sort of chat. I'm lost in watching them. Listening. It's beautiful But it's happened too fast.
There's a rustle behind me and Zay's found the marshmallows. He's jumping and rushing and charging around for another stick. He finds one and someone tears the bag open and his small fingers push the treat over the point. He's fast and he thrusts it into the fire, deep into the flame. It catches fire and burns black. Lonny takes the stick and blows away the flame.
"Let me show you," he says. "We'll get it golden brown."
There's a new marshmallow and Zay stands in front of Lonny and both of their hands are on the stick. They hold it into the heat, above the flame. Lonny guides him to turn it and Zay's safe in his arms.
Lonny's guiding him along, teaching him something new, letting him learn in the safety of his strength.
Just like I'll teach you, I believe God whispers. I'll hold you close and teach you when it's time to learn something new.
Raising these boys is what I know. It's what I love. But watching this love and learning pass between my husband and son, I understand.
"I trust you, God. I trust you to teach me, too."
We sit around the fire for a long time. Night wraps around us. The laughter and chatter grows quiet as the flame grows smaller, too.
We're all here.
There's joy again.
And a slow, warming peace.