We drove, yesterday, off the path that our GPS had chosen. Our hunt for a restaurant to eat lunch lead us down small streets, lined with houses. My children peeked through the windows and announced oddities – lawn ornaments, wishing wells, an ice cream truck parked in a driveway – as we passed.
Let’s remember that, my son suggested, so that we look for it when we come back this way.
It was a purple ice cream truck, parked where a minivan should be, on a Tuesday afternoon.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him, we’re off the beaten path and we won’t be back this way. Our GPS will take us a better, less tangled route.
I didn’t have the heart to stop him from waiting to see again what amused him so.
Let him watch and wonder and wait by the window. Let him learn to savor each silly, nonsensical, moment of this life we are living, without needing a cracker-crumb trail to lead him back. We grow and change and move so fast, I hesitate to think of all of the glittering and ordinary moments I alone have left in my wake.
I hesitate to think of all of the moments I have quickly pushed past on my way to bigger and brighter, without realizing that my journey would not lead me back. Life is one way. My path does not, will not, always loop back to give me a second glimpse. Life does not wait for me to have my camera ready for each scenic vista.
Our path did eventually lead us to a restaurant, where my children colored lobsters in shades of green and yellow and red. We ate heartily and then followed our GPS to the beach, where we saw sand sculptures and played skee-ball and earned enough tickets to bring home a treasure chest full of gold (Lila, literally, chose a plastic trunk with gold with her 25 ticket earnings.)
As we exited the arcade, we walked the boardwalk and came upon strips of yellow caution tape and police directing traffic. An accident. Pedestrians hit, air bags deployed, a car turned parallel to the road and crashed into the boardwalk we were just walking on.
An ambulance waited, lights flashing, as paramedics strapped bodies to stretchers.
When allowed, we crossed the street and took our children down to the water to dip their feet in the vast coolness of the Atlantic. They ran and jumped and squealed. I stood behind. I savored.
Lord, be with those paramedics and those bodies and their families who are worried. Lord, give me a thankful heart for each sweaty, sand crusted, sunburnt and impromptu jaunt in the ocean moment that I am given.
And, thank you, Lord, for this one small moment of blessing. Thank you for this bookmark in my heart, with my children frolicking, with my husband standing watch and holding my baby.
This is a moment I will not have twice.