Reflecting on Summer

  by Jed Burkholder

I can feel the dying embers of summer. (A letter of sorts to my children.)

We are finally home after a few weeks of vacation, relaxation and quality time with our extended families. There is nothing like new places and new spaces to awaken a sense of adventure inside me, and yet there is also nothing like home. It’s the four of us again. The escape from reality that we’ve had is rudely shaken by bills that are due and questions about what comes next, things for which I seem to lack the answers.

Even today, I began to feel the pressure of what we intended to accomplish tighten around Laura and I, sensing its impact on the way we talk to each other and what we see. Did we teach our kids what we wanted to this summer? Did we tell them the story of living well that we longed to? I wish I had answers.

Tonight, we dug through memories. My parents have begun to clean out old spaces of their house and, as a result, we acquired boxes and keepsakes from my childhood. I remarked to Laura on the way home that seeing the first twenty years of my life physically reduced to just a storage crate was the oddest feeling.  And yet, there is the strongest sense that the memories are good, that I was given the gift of a limitless love without judgment or fear.

I hope that’s how my children feel as well. Somedays I’m less sure than others.

Maybe when you look back on this summer, you’ll remember exploring the streams and venturing through the cornfield to our “secret beach.” Maybe you’ll forget the tone of my voice or the sharpness of my words as I struggled to silence my selfishness. Maybe you’ll remember how it felt to learn new games and jump into the pool without fear, and forget when I chose my own desires over yours. I hope so.

I found a letter from my dad tonight. It was buried in an old wooden box that I once hid notes from old crushes in. I couldn’t even read the whole thing without tears clouding my vision. In it, he confessed his own struggles as a father, his feelings of failure and inadequacy. It shook me to the core to realize the gift of honesty I have been given. I look back as a thirty-year-old and scarcely remember the mistakes and shortcomings he feared. I remember love.

I pray that you will remember love as well. That I will give it unendingly and without reservation. That my selfishness and doubts will be swallowed up in the sea of love I have for you. I am proud to be your father, I only hope that I can continue to grow into one who is worthy of the task.

Tonight, I sat outside in the cooling embers of summer and I remembered and I dreamed. I know little of what is next in our story, but there is no one else I’d rather write it with.

I love you Lillie & Miles.

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For more on the importance of showing up intentionally in the lives of our children, don’t miss the wisdom in A.T. Thomasan’s interview.

Shared with permission. Originally posted at Oh PilgrimPicture by Wil Stewart; Used via Unsplash license.