Thursday, November 11, 2021
Katie Snipes Lancaster
So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God,
and God abides in them.
1 John 4:16
A Look at Joy
One of my favorite photos of my grandson is of the two of us, his second summer of life, on his first trip to the South Carolina coast. I’m leading into the surf at sunset, one who only recently had learned to walk. I expected him to be afraid at his first meeting of the sea. He is no fear and all joy. He holds my hand. In the photo, you can see only our backs, an old man stooping toward the child, the child eagerly pushing feet forward. You can’t see, but I’ll never forget, the smile on his face, his delight as he eagerly entered the waves at my encouraging, “Jump!” I love that photo’s depiction of one of the greatest joys of aging—leading a little one toward the grand adventure of the wide world, gripping his hand reassuringly, egging him on to face into the wind and to leap the waves.
But yesterday when I looked at that picture of the two of us—the little boy and the old man—it occurred to me that I had misread that moment. I, who always thought I was leading the child, saw that I was being led. Here at sunset, the sea, the vast eternity of time that was rushing toward him with promise, was ebbing away from me, taking from me all that I loved, including him. He was all future; I was now mostly past. In truth the little one, still fresh in the world, had me by the hand, encouraging me to make my way into the deep, departing. He begins life eagerly jumping forward. I clutch his tiny hand tightly, my last grasp of the future, at the end of day as I stagger uncertainly, unwillingly toward the engulfing, eternal sea. Not long from now, he’ll have to let go and venture on without me. His grip is not tight enough to rescue me from the encroaching dark, the inundating deep.
No cure for that but God.
(From Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher: A Memoir)
Grip our hands, O God,
Urge us on to face the wind
And leap the waves.
Call us fresh into the world,
And carry us on our own way,
Into your love
that is fully human, fully divine.