Sometimes pictures surprise you. The one above, taken four years ago on a Holy Saturday like today, was one that escaped my attention until just recently. That day, my daughter had my camera and she took dozens and dozens of pictures…this one seemed just kind of random to me until I looked a bit deeper. The day was so important. We had just gotten word that our mother was finally approved for surgery following three cycles of chemo. She wasn’t guaranteed the surgery initially, as it didn’t seem she would be healthy enough to endure it, but on this day, we had hope for the first time in a long time. We also had extended family, a beautiful sunny day, great food and drink, the spirit of celebration, and somehow at some point we decided to play our old childhood game: Run Around the House.
This was a game we made up as children. We lined up along the stone path, secretly chose words (red, rice krispies, Moonlighting) from a category (colors, cereals, tv shows…), waited for ours to be called by whomever was ‘it’, and then ran for dear life around the house hoping not to be caught as we crossed that line again.
At the moment the picture was taken, my mother stepped out to observe the game. She had gone through so much, she probably should have been sitting, but she wanted to be among us in the thick of things and so, she was.
What I notice first is that she is bathed in light as she steps out the door. There is a colorful orb of reflected light by her face, and it just makes me smile. I love the idea that as she stepped out of life as we know it, she was encompassed by that beautiful light, multiplied by a billion. The light is directed on all of us who are gathered there, and on our childhood home.
In the picture, there are featured a crucifix, the face of Jesus, and a stone at the door which reads, ‘Peace to All who Enter Here.’ I love that God takes up so much of the picture, as He was such a big part of my mother’s life, and still is.
I see the Nike logo, and it reminds me of the motto: Just Do It. That encompasses so much of what my parents would endure in the months that followed. They just did what was in front of them, step by step, growing and learning, becoming at the same time courageous and humble, strong and dependent.
I see their house-shaped mailbox, and how it had been through a lot, but it’s still standing, much like our family through that tough time. And the number 23 makes me think immediately of the psalm…
It was Holy Ground that day, though I didn’t know it at the time. The instinct for all of us was to take pictures, hold on to it, save the joy of that day for another when we would need it. And we are still running, sometimes in circles, still playing in the game, and we have yet to cross the finish. The crucible of that time would change each of us, and that’s in part what it was meant to do, but I am glad to be able to touch that joy of that day, and the hope that comes with it.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord