what we're about

Attempts to illuminate our brief mortal existence

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Building tents and keeping secrets

"And Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.'" - Mark 9:5, ESV

I think that I understand Peter. He was experiencing a moment like none other, witnessing on earth the true glory of the Son of God.  Two heroes of his faith stood before him. And he wanted to grasp the moment. He wanted to live there. And, with the permanence of tents, maybe he wanted to share it. There's nothing inherently wrong with the impulse; as far as I know, humans have always had this urge to share their experiences. But then a voice from heaven came, and told him what this moment was really about. "This is my beloved son.  Listen to him."  

"This is not a moment to be grasped," He seemed to be saying. "This is a moment of revelation. This is not a moment to live in. This is not even a moment to share. This is a moment to remember."

Today, Landon and I packed our little guy in the car and drove 45 minutes to Lake Michigan. We visited Warren Dunes State Park, a spot that I dimly remembered from a family visit more than 10 years ago. We drove through trees, catching an occasional glimpse of water and sun, until we rounded a curve in the road and the dunes came into view, along with a wide open view of white-capped Lake Michigan. 

We were amazed.  

Wrapping Christopher in blankets to ward off the chilly wind that gusted off the lake, we headed across the beach.  The red flag was out to let everybody know to stay out of the water, and Landon gave me disapproving looks as I walked down far enough to let the cold edge of a breaker just barely wash over my toes.  I laughed at him, and at the sea gulls. We read the signs about the history of the state park. And then we climbed the dune.  

Landon tromped steadily up, carrying the baby, barely a sign in evidence that he wasn't walking flat on solid ground. I slipped and slid up, my bare feet sinking into sand that packed itself down under his shoes.  But eventually we both got to the top.  The wind was stronger than it had been on the beach, stirring up a fine mist of sand that stuck to my sunscreen covered calves, and occasionally whipped up towards our faces.  There were a few hardy trees, some dune grass. And there was the view, Lake Michigan spread out before us. I was on top of the world with my husband and son, breathing in the beauty. And I had no camera. There would be no photographic evidence of Christopher's first trip to the lake, his first time up the dune.  No pictures of us, smiling at the top or grimacing as we climbed. I regretted this for a minute. I wanted to build a tent. But no tent could hold this. No picture could capture this weather, this sky, this moment, this joy.  

So I stood at the top of the dune, and watched the whitecaps appear far, far out in the lake, blinking in and out on the distant water like fire-flies in a far meadow on a summer day.  There will be other trips.  And maybe the next time there will be pictures.  But for now, this is just ours.  This is a secret. I can give you the words, but the images and the memories and the tiny, wave washed pebble that we picked up for a keepsake, they are mine and they are Landon's, and someday they will be Christopher's. Some moments were never meant for tents.   

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