If there were a few more days to August, it could just take a mama out at the knees.
We’re at the end of it now and the yellow leaves have begun to flutter down slow and it’s becoming a little easier to breathe.
Round here, we don’t much look forward to winter when the days will get short and the nights will get cold and the darkness just goes on, and on most of those short cold days we’ll pine wistful for the long-gone time of summer when the midnight sun beams round the clock and projects get done and fish get caught and energy stays high and the mountains shine bright.
We’ll mourn summer’s passing.
But sometimes, when the babies get big and the farm gets busy, the shortness can bring a fastness and in the summer rush of things…
…a mama’s spirit can get blistered with burn.
Oh, she’ll keep going.
She’ll keep doing what us mamas do…
..running and cooking and laughing and project planning…
…the fairs, the butchering, the events, the camping…
But at the end of it, she’ll stand rumpled and disheveled, gravel in her Birkstocks and manure on her cowboy boots, dust in her nostrils and sand in her hair, with a thick, black line of August right up under her fingernails and she’ll feel a little beat up from the grittiness of it all.
She’ll feel a little traumatized.
And she’ll want to retreat.
To be one less in the crowd of folks who all seem to have weathered the past thirty-one days with neat hair and clean shoes.
She might even feel outside of them, these ones she once felt so much a part of.
And she might wonder if she even matters to anyone but the little band within her walls, the ones she orchestrates and dances with daily.
Saddest of all, she’ll wonder if she’s even been missed in this flurry of days that has taken her and her and her people away from the ones she’s stood with all these Sundays, those voices she’s sang with and laughed with and cried with and grown with.
All that wonder can make a mama feel isolated. Separate from those she once felt so united with.
As if maybe she doesn’t matter.
But then one of those mornings during the thirty-one frenzied August days, she’ll hear that one of those she loves has passed into eternity while his family stood near and the sun was high, and she knows.
She knows that yes.
One does matter.
When the tears come over the sadness that is left in this world without that one good man…
…when his precious sweet widow’s smile is still bright because she’s happy that her beloved stands with his Savior even while she mourns with a whole community over the loss of the gentle presence her husband brought to so many people for so many years…
…when their family fills a row at church and stands as one to sing to the One who gives just three days after their strong leader flew…
…a mama is reminded.
One life matters much.
And that same night that strong gentle elder flew from this earth, my strong gentle husband took the knife from my son’s hand when it was time to butcher the pheasants that were our boy’s market sale.
We’d watched those birds grow all summer and we’d sit at their pen and in the quiet we’d observe their silent march and marvel at the kingly colors of the roosters with honorable names like Phillip and Chief…those rainbows of feathers who were both wild and noble.
My son loved those birds.
And he knew the day would come and we knew the day would come but how does that stop a person from loving a creation? And when my husband took the knife and said Son, let me do it, tears rolled down my cheeks and my man-boy looked away as his father gently sent that first noble bird into eternity.
Those lives mattered.
One always matters.
When we broke away from this flurry, this August, we went far to the big fair and we got there late and we stayed there late and we rode rides and we celebrated the end of this the busiest summer of all and we remembered what it’s like to be together and not be frenzied.
And when the late-August sun set over the mountains, we dragged a bench out into the middle of the woodlot and we sat there, all six of us in the dark, and we watched the sky light up with the fireworks display and we were quiet.
I thought about all the years I’ve been loving this little family and the sky shook with cannon booms.
I thought of how my precious friend must be deeply missing her beloved right at that moment.
I thought of how thankful I was that my husband and my boy got to go see him one last time before the Father gently carried him into eternity…
…how odd this world will be without that wonderful laugh and sense of humor…
…how my own grandparents have been gone for so long now and how different this world is without them.
…how quickly a person goes from being here with us to becoming part of the cloud of witnesses…
…how every life matters…
…how one matters…
…I thought of how fireworks must look so lovely from Heaven.
The sky got bright and the night got noisy and the colors got big and we started to hoot and holler.
And there we were, the loudest ones in the woodlot, my husband laughed, and we were yelling with joy and August was almost over and our friend was with Jesus.
So when thirty-six hours later, we went back home and gathered with those ones who’ve been loving us all these years, those ones we could feel separate from if we listened to our doubts too long…
…we listened instead to the voices of those who smiled at the stories of our dirty shoes and our gritty month.
We listened to the ones who told us of their own fast and dirty month of August and we laughed at the sunshine and another year of growing and we cried for the ones who aren’t with us this year.
And we embraced and held tight to the ones who said we’ve missed you.
Because in the fastness and the grittiness of this month, this world…
we’ve missed them too.
We might be busy but we can’t be separated.
Life might get frenzied but we can’t get isolated.
We might feel outside the circle of things, but we’re never out when we’re in His family.
He came to clean us all and even the grittiest and the dirtiest fingernails are kissed and loved and in my dirt He cherishes and polishes and shows me how to love the neighbor who has even dirtier fingernails than mine.
He shows me that even in my dirt I am clean and He shows me how to hold tight to that until I fly into eternity with Him.
And until that day, He sends gentle peacemaking men and He sends warm embraces of sisters and with the wind in our hair and with the flutter of leaves and with the flight of wild birds,
He reminds us.
We are one.
And one always, always matters.