O time, whither dost thou fly?
June 19, 2021 | My Jottings
A few days ago two of my granddaughters came to spend the night with me. Lovely Louisa is eight and is Sharon and Chris’s youngest. Marvelous Miriam is six and is Carolyn and Jeremy’s next-to-the-youngest. I use those adjectives intentionally — Louisa is lovely, but she is also a child who loves. She has a big, unselfish heart for such a young child. And Miriam is a marvel — a beautiful work of God who blesses our family and makes us marvel at Him and the way He creates children and actually gives them to us.
We did all the things we normally do when my grands visit — we had scrambled eggs for breakfast (“Grandma, please make sure the eggs aren’t slimy!” requested Miri), watched a couple of cartoons on television, played games, read books, took a bubble bath, braided newly washed hair, and played outside. And I was the official Counter of the Cartwheels and the Timer of the Headstands.
This is Miriam, with a smile that lights up the whole world, a voice that sounds like the morning song of a bird, and a heart of love and cheer that touches everyone who knows her. She chose the red scooter from Grandma’s scooter stash, and went up and down the sidewalk on my street while I sat on the driveway in a camp chair and told her how great she was doing each time she whizzed by.
Miriam just finished Kindergarten, a lot at home and some at school. She makes friends easily and shows her love to others in a way I so admire and delight in.
The resemblance between Miriam and her paternal grandma Diane is uncanny. When I look at Miri I see Diane, and then feel all the more love for her because that grandma is one of the greatest treasures in my life.
Louisa just finished third grade and looks so much like her mama. She is very attuned to the feelings of others and has a heart to comfort and serve. She is kindhearted, has a wonderful sense of humor and goofiness, and is so easy to be around. Her very presence is a gift. I’m the only living grandparent for Louisa and her siblings, and I want to be around a few more years to give them a good memory or two.
Louisa has a new pair of roller blades, and I recently took her to the cemetery where she practiced (with knee and wrist pads) staying upright and I sat in the shade with my summer Bible study lesson Jesus in Me by Anne Graham Lotz. We stopped at McDonald’s to pick up a lunch for her, and while she ate her chicken nuggets she sat on a rug and read a book in the sun.
When Louisa had enough rollerblading she sat on my lap and we laughed together about a few things. She had a lot of energy to expend, so I gave her some running instructions without pointing, so she would find things on her own: “Run to the headstone that is white and very tall, then go touch the place where a flag with the color red stands, then run to the twin trees, and back to me.” She did it.
“Now run to the black bench with a lantern near it, then to the grave with yellow flowers, then touch the green basket, and find the headstone with the name ‘Bolf’ on it, then back to me.”
She completed that. When she grew restless with my quiet studying we drove through the lanes of the cemetery and rolled to a stop when we came to the resident geese with their new babies. There’s one group I call The Ladies, and Louisa likes when I lower my window and call to them, “Hey Ladies!” and they all come waddling over to my side of the car, looking crazily sideways with their blue eyes, hoping I’ll toss them a crust of bread.
When you get to be my age (63), your thoughts begin to change. I think about when Louisa was a baby, how she came to spend time with Grandpa Michael and me on Fridays. She was just newly walking. She wanted me to pull the lever on a toy that played “Old McDonald” and played animal sounds over and over again. When “Old McDonald” would play she would wag her head back and forth vigorously like Ray Charles used to do when playing his piano, and I still have that video and watch it. Why does it bring tears? Why does the passage of time seem so painful to me now? A quote by C.S. Lewis sheds light on this:
“For we are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. ‘How he’s grown!’ we exclaim, ‘How time flies!’ as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the very wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed: unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.”
I think that is it on the button — I am so little reconciled to time I am astonished at it. Lewis posits that we chafe at time because we are eternal beings who live temporarily within the constraints of time. I believe that with all my heart.
I don’t want Miriam to grow up and change, even though I know it is God’s will and He is growing her every moment. I don’t want Louisa to become a teenager, then a grown woman, even though I know that is part of God’s plan and He can be trusted. I want their lives to be suspended in time, I want them to stay eight and six for a millennium or two. I want Louisa’s blue eyes to stay huge and full of wonder, her teeth to stay slightly crooked and her smile to be that gummy breathtaking masterpiece it is right now. I don’t want Miriam’s voice to deepen and stop sounding like a robin outside my window in the morning. I want her to stay as she is, loving children’s cooking videos, adoring her daddy, welcoming everyone as a new friend. I don’t want that smile you see in the photo above to change to something dimmer, less eye-crinkling. Why, oh, why, is the passage of time so achingly, astonishingly painful and beautiful?
I don’t want the day to come when they won’t want to spend the night at Grandma’s anymore, where they have to shower themselves, where they won’t sit in front of me in warm jammies and wet hair, waiting for me to French braid their hair. I don’t want to see the day when they have cell phones and don’t answer my texts. I loathe the thought of the day (for it has already happened with some older grands) when they’ll say “Meh,” when asked if they’d like to come spend the night. I don’t want other children to hurt them, gossip about them, lie about them, ignore them. I don’t want them in environments where Jesus and His love will become faint and the lure of friends and the world will beckon loudly and stridently. I don’t want the world to teach them to disrespect themselves and to go looking for treasure in moldy crates of pyrite and colored glass. I want so much for them. I would give my life for them in one second without a hesitating thought.
So I do what I’m supposed to do, even though when I drop them off at their homes I sob almost uncontrollably as I pull out of their alleys. I pray for them. I plead with Jesus for them. I write their names repeatedly in my prayer journal and ask for impossible things for them. I can do that, because God’s love and power are limitless and His faithfulness reaches to the heavens…. which we now know, thanks in part to Hubble, are billions and trillions of miles deep and wide and high. I ask God to make Himself known to them now and for their whole lives. I ask for godly friends, protection, confidence, humility, industry, mercy, joy, self-control, wisdom, love, adventure, prayer, wholeness, wonder, and more. I never stop asking. Pages and pages and pages and pages…. I ask. I write their names and weep because they are my flesh and blood and I love them more than I have words to tell or ways to show. I bring them to the feet of Jesus and say, “Oh Lord, here are my treasures. Please.”
I don’t do this just with Louisa and Miriam of course. I do this with my three grown daughters. My two sons-in-love. All my grandchildren. I do pray regularly for other people, especially friends. Most likely if you are reading this I have prayed for you.
But these exquisite children make me ask, no, almost wail, “O time, whither dost thou fly? Why dost thou torment me so?”
And then I breathe deeply in and out, and reach for the seventh Kleenex, and I say, “Lord Jesus, thank you for Miriam and Louisa. Thank you! May your will be done. They belong to you, really. Help us trust you Lord. Amen.”