Once in a great while, I am blessed with a captivating dream about my children – Rachel, Stephen Jr., and Matthew – when they were small.
To me, such dreams are richer than mere memories. They seem, at least for their short duration, to allow the reliving of a blessed season of life. And, they just might provide an insight or two lost in the original moment(s).
Thomas Carlyle once observed that “the tragedy of life lies not in how much we suffer but in how much we miss.”
Jesus’ parable of the sower similarly treats this theme. Many seeds, the Lord teaches, are wasted because the soil (i.e., mind, heart, and soul) is unprepared to receive them.
I have often wondered what I’ve missed in my life. Many seeds, I’m quite sure.
A few years ago, I searched my home for a book I was sure I owned. As frustration mounted, I finally thought to check an upstairs bookcase wherein we keep some older titles. As I looked there from shelf to shelf, I spotted a small cluster of children’s books tucked in the corner.
I pulled the books out of their resting place and immediately forgot all about my frantic search.
When our children were little, bedtime was a festive happening. There were prayers, songs, spontaneous “pretend stories” (a nightly test of Dad’s creativity), and at least one – but often two – children’s books. The rediscovered titles resting on my lap that day had been featured at Dalton bedtimes time and again.
I flipped through the familiar pages with an odd mix of emotions. Then, an especially tender, yet profoundly sad, thought came to mind. Once upon a time, years ago, I had read each one of those books, respectively, to each one of my children, respectively, for the very last time… without realizing it.
I grieved at the awareness.
Like most people, I sometimes wish that I could relive a moment from the past – not to remain there, but just to have that treasured experience once more.
“If I could save time in a bottle,” sang (the late) Jim Croce.
If I held such a magic bottle in my hands, I would wait for a moment of particular darkness, a time when I needed a very special grace to strengthen me; then, I’d uncork it and drink in the experience of reading each one of those books, respectively, to each one of my (small again) children, respectively, for the very last time.
And, finally understanding the sanctity of the moment, I would read ever so slowly.
Tick – tick – tick!