All is quiet. My house feels empty – too big and too empty. I don’t quite understand how it feels so empty when four of us still live here, but it feels empty of childhood energy. The voices and the clatter of young children no longer fill the walls and each morning some or all of them awake, dress, and leave for work. School books no longer fill the table and breakfast is no longer a clattering, noisy, family affair.
I walk outside and look in awe at my beautiful yard. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful. Cultivated and planted and weeded year after year as our new house grew older and my children grew up. Trees that I could once step over and had to carefully guard with a bucket to keep young mowers from thrashing, now tower above me – still growing. Flower beds and gravel road; beauty and abundance; and still growing. I climb the steps of the club house built by young growing boys – now vine covered and paint peeled, now abandoned by boys who have grown. Oh, they have plans to repair and repaint for the sake of prosperity, but jobs and men’s work thwart well laid plans. Now they talk of repairing with new lumber and sturdy posts rather than scouring through old lumber and discovering great finds in old boards.
I wander on to the tree beyond the barn. Once this was the only solitary tree on our whole property, where Jennifer happily spent long hours playing and reading. When dusk fell she would be welcome into the boys’ retreat and together they spent many summer nights sleeping in their own space, and yet my house still felt full. Full of energy and growing lives.
Like the trees on my property, my children are still growing – I’m still growing – but young limbs are no longer stretching upward and young voices no longer shout and laugh. Laughter still rings through my house at times, but it is the deeper laughter of young adults and voices are no longer raised in childish excitement but in earnest conversation. Ecclesiastes 7:9-11 states, “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? For thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”
I do miss those childhood days, but life is continually changing and there is much joy to be found in every season. I remember a time when I longed for a quiet, peaceful moment, and now quiet, peaceful moments are a regular part of life, so I rejoice in this season of peace and vow to enjoy these days for they too will pass quickly.