While I'll admit I'd love to go back to the summer of my life with our busy, growing family in full bloom, the autumn of life also brings a plenitude of joy.

Share story

Faith & Values |

People who visit our home usually notice one thing right away: the abundance of old clocks stationed here and there like small but stately sentinels guarding the passage of time in the Detrick household. With all those clocks, you’d think we’d always know exactly what time it is, but the opposite is true. Since it’s hard to keep antique clocks perfectly regulated — even though my husband, who collects, repairs and refinishes these lovely old timepieces, makes a gallant effort — we are never quite sure which one is really right on the money.

It’s interesting what a wide range of emotions and perspectives the subject of time triggers in us. As youngsters, we long for the days to fly by, thereby transporting us to birthdays, Christmases, summer vacations and other magical seasons of childhood wistfulness. We have yet to learn that the meandering stream of days which tumble over the waterfall of years can never be regained, or that life downstream will likely never be so carefree again.

As adults, we are ambivalent about time. We may be eager for it to pass, sometimes for the same reasons children are, as we await something good. But more often, I’ve observed, it’s because we want to “get through” our less-than-pleasant present: a regimen of chemo, a stressful time at work, a season of financial setbacks. We’re sure things will be better “after this.”

On the other hand, we mostly detest how quickly the pages of the calendar must be turned. Right now I’d love to hold on to August (and the warm summer days) indefinitely, but like it or not, September is almost upon us. And as much as I’d like to believe I’m still in the summer of my life, there is every indication (which I won’t recount here) that it’s actually fall I’m living these days.

In Psalm 31:15, David says, “My times are in Your hand.” (English Standard Version) It seems to me that if God holds “our times” — those passing portions of this fleeting life — in one hand, his other hand contains a surprising gift he’s held in reserve for that specific season, one that’s meant to be opened and enjoyed in the span called “now.” Each “now” has a present to unwrap for those who are looking.

While I’ll admit I’d love to go back to the summer of my life with our busy, growing family in full bloom (and with some “wish I knew then what I know now” do-overs), the autumn of life has brought with it one of those held-in-reserve gifts — the exquisite joy of being a grandparent. Every summer, we have the privilege of keeping our grandgirls for a week or so. Yes, we like to give their hardworking parents a much-needed break; but really, we just want to be with these lovely, lively little souls.

Recently, I came across a journal entry I’d made a few years back when our sweet grandgirls were a bit younger, right after they’d spent a few days with us:

“G’morning, Grammy” … sleepy-eyed breakfasters … cream of wheat with butter, brown sugar, and cream … and some always finding its way into a few wisps of silky hair. …

“Grammy, can Emma come over and play?” Castles and forts made of drooping blankets that won’t stay put … darting under tables, behind curtains, and in closets (shhhh!) for a serious round of hide-and-seek … sliding down the stairs in a sleeping-bag sled … hilarious laughter coming from a tangle of little-girl arms and legs. …

Chicken noodle soup … “Grammy, it’s too hot” … “Let me blow it for you, Sweetie” … “I finished my vegetables — can I have ice cream now?” … “Papa’s home!!” “Papa, come play ‘Connie the Dog!’ ” …

Piles of books with one-syllable words and primary-colored pictures on every page scattered about the room … delightful (and daunting) disarray of pink plastic teapots, cloth-covered foam balls, bent puzzle pieces, scruffy bear puppets with audacious personalities and a penchant for tickling little girls just to hear them giggle … leftover LEGOs waiting to be stepped on by the next unsuspecting bare foot … most everything movable out of place … most everything important in place. …

Splashy, bubbly baths with a menagerie of soft plastic bath toys that spray water when you squeeze them … lots of squeezing them … more water on the floor and the bather than the bath-ees. …

Favorite books grown familiar with the reading … and rereading … and rereading … Snuggles and kisses galore, but never enough. …

The knowing that these precious years called childhood are magical and fleeting but being powerless to slow them down … prayers and hopes and wishes for all good things as they pass through the gates of time into grown-up life … but not yet, God, please not yet … joy, tiredness, sweet ache of love … grandparenting.

Come to think of it, fall is a grand season to be in after all. Bring on September.

Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God).

She is also a public speaker,

an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com