On Saturday, in an empty corner of Walmart, I was pacing the length of the aisle, swinging my arms by my sides as I wished for my gray jacket. I was freezing, and I thought about its familiar warmth as I twisted my fingers together, wondering why my hands always feel safer in pockets. The cliché country song on the overhead speakers faded into silence, and the reflection of the glittering lights in the dirty tile seemed cold and wrong. It washed the faces of bored-looking shoppers in a tired shade of yellow. I was leaning against a shelf, watching a woman piling things into her cart, when an unbelievably familiar sound came drifting through the air, freezing me in my tracks as the melody I’d played on repeat for many a late night echoed through the grocery store speakers.
and if the sun don’t shine on me today / and if the subways flood, and bridges break / will you just lay down, and dig your grave / or will you rail against your dying day? (life in the city | the lumineers)
The song was faded and soft—I could hardly hear the words, but it didn’t matter, because I knew them by heart. While I was spinning in the aisle, while my sister was begging me to stop singing in public, the world felt suddenly, inexplicably, wonderfully like summer.
It most definitely wasn‘t summer. I’d just been shivering in the parking lot as freezing wind cut through my thin t-shirt. Nonetheless, though it hadn’t moments before, something about that night tasted suddenly like the golden freedom of summertime. We’d come to Walmart from driving practice, where I’d driven crooked laps around an empty college campus, the silent roads stained with the colors of a wide-open sunset. I’d been gripping the steering wheel like a lifeline, still unsure of how to keep my wheels straight on the road, as golden sunlight poured through the car windows and made the uncertain moment beautiful.
and I was younger / and open like a child / man, it’s been a while / since I felt that way (midnight on the interstate | trampled by turtles)
Summer, the season of sunshine and swimming pools and sunburns and spontaneous trips and long warm evenings and freedom. I miss it every day. When it arrives, I soak up every second, breathing in the minutes as my dirty t-shirt brushes against my arm and I lean over the back of the pickup truck to point out fireflies in the flickering dusk. I bottle up the memories, stacking them in precarious cardboard boxes in some distant corner of my mind. With every month they lay untouched, they grow steeped in nostalgia, time only sweetening their faded colors. I think, maybe, summer feels a little bit like eternity.
He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11
Doesn’t that just feel like a warm hug, guys? We aren’t supposed to understand just yet. Deep down, I know the ache I have for summer isn’t really for a longing for summer at all. It’s an ache to understand eternity, to know why the sky gets so dark and heavy and painful before the sun rises again, to see everything that I’m incapable of opening my eyes to. It’s an ache for what comes next, because this beautiful world? This warm house, where my sweatshirt is damp from washing dishes with too much enthusiasm, where I told myself I’d be in bed by eleven but I’m pouring my soul into a page instead, where there’s soft music coming through my earbuds as my family settles down to sleep?
This beautiful world isn’t even where we belong, and that’s why sometimes, that’s why most of the time, the world feels wrong. It is wrong. Even with all the beauty that our Creator left hidden in every corner, the bigger picture is horribly, painfully broken. But we can breathe, and close our eyes, and rest in the brokenness, knowing that it’s okay, because we won’t be here forever.
One day soon, we’ll see eternity. Maybe it’ll feel like summertime. But I have a feeling it’ll be so, so, so much better than the most beautiful, golden-tinted summer evening you’ve ever been able to imagine.
That’ll be a pretty great place to be. :) <3
*hugs you all because I appreciate you so much more than you’ll ever know*
– Clara <3