As I sit here writing today, my windows are open and the music of the birds is floating into my home and into my heart. There is currently a sweet springtime shower drenching the soil that used to be hardened by winter, however, earlier today I heard the welcome sound of the grass being mowed all throughout my neighborhood.
The sounds and aroma of this time of year have always been a delicious balm to my winter-weary soul.
But for some reason, this year, the delight that generally accompanies the arrival of spring, has been mixed with a quiet sadness. I, who have fought depression for so many years, am careful to keep my fingers on the pulse of my emotions. And so, I am quick to recognize a malaise of the soul when it quietly creeps unsuspectingly into my heart.
Why am I sad? What is it that is causing this muted pain?
Yesterday when I pulled into my driveway after a full weekend of speaking and ministering to women, the neighborhood children were out in full-force. There was a raucous soccer game going on across the street with little legs chasing down the ball accompanied by giggles that were echoing across the lawn and up the driveway. As I exited my car and stretched my cramped legs, I waved to a group of parents who were watching the miniature soccer extravaganza. I couldn’t help but smile.
Next door there was a group of sweaty, loud teen-age boys who were playing basketball with no reserve. You would have thought it was the Final Four happening right there on the driveway asphalt! The father who lives next door was serving as the single ref and you could tell by the grin on his face that he loved every minute of it! He winked at me as he tried to keep the boys from being too rough.
As I pulled my luggage from the car, I saw a young couple pushing a double-stroller that carried a talkative toddler and a crying baby. They were obviously high-tailing it for home, so distraught was the little one, but I loved the sight of this precious family enjoying the first Sunday of spring.
For so many years, as I anticipated the blossoming days of spring and then looked forward to the long, hot days of summer, I was surrounded by a clan of children!
How I loved the sidewalk chalk that decorated my driveway and the Popsicle sticks that littered my front porch!
There was nothing like hearing a knock or two on the front door and knowing that one of the Snapp boys had come over to play baseball in our front yard.
I adored looking out my front window and watching the Cox girls slowly strolling up our long driveway with their dolls in their arms to spend the afternoon with Joy and Joni.
And then, as my children grew, and went away to college, summertime was the season when they still came home.
Their knees were under my table at dinnertime. Their laundry was piled high in my laundry room. Their laughter was still a part of the fabric of summertime in my life.
Now, all five McLeod children are grown and gone and have established wonderful lives in cities and states far away. Summer no longer calls them to come home.
There are no soccer games in my front yard nor is there a masterpiece drawn in chalk on the sidewalk that leads to porch.
There are no sweaty boys in my driveway arguing over the ref’s call.
The strollers have all been given away and Popsicles are no longer a summer staple in my freezer.
Springtime no longer invites my children to come home.
Summer stretches before me with no welcome interruptions by those little people who so quickly grew up.
And that is why I am sad.
I think that all women who know the reality of the empty nest can relate to the ache of my heart. What used to be … no longer is.
However, I refuse to be consumed with the past. I am determined that as a woman my best days are not behind me but there is still a lot of living to do! I will always cherish the days when my nest was full and my house was messy but today I purpose to fully embrace the work that God has set in front of me.
And so while the birds are chirping their vibrant song, I will sing as well!
While the neighborhood children are out playing and sweating and laughing, I will remind their parents to enjoy every minute of childhood!
While the grass is being mowed, I will not only savor the aroma of summer but I will breathe in the fragrance of heaven as well.
Although my home might seem empty, my heart is filled with the joy of tomorrow and all that God has called me to do in His Kingdom.
And who knows?! If a neighborhood child or two happens to wander into my yard, they might discover a friendly woman who has a Popsicle or two waiting in the freezer as a treat on a hot day! And, I might just ask the sticky urchins to wait for a minute while I find my sidewalk chalk … because, after all, every driveway needs a summertime masterpiece!
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!