We didn’t talk much on our long road trip last autumn, the Preacher and I. Just getting to the West Coast from our prairie home occupied us.
A bittersweet task loomed at our final destination: helping my beloved elderly parents leave home. At their gracious house, my siblings and I would meet to finish the already-in-process business of packing up and distributing family possessions, holding a garage sale, dispensing with what remained, and moving the primary nurturers of our lives into a tiny one-bedroom apartment.
Matching our cloudy moods, the sun stayed hidden.
The sun is the essential scenic element of any prairie road trip. It’s what transforms the view from drab to evocative, and from mere interesting to riveting, magnetic, or compelling.
“The leaves aren’t glorious this year, are they?” I said, finally.
“Nope. They’re missing the sun.”
So were we. Autumn, we both feel—don’t you?—ought to be glorious. It should deliver colors that tantalize one’s soul. Reds like rubies afire. Golds and yellows that snare brilliance and parse it out in royal statements.
Autumn, a proper one, ought to call the last hurrah before the visual quiet of a prairie winter. At least that’s our opinion. And for that it needs the sun to dapple the dormant landscape and finger the shorn farmfields.
Around noon, hungry and needing a stretch, we pulled our sorry selves into a small rest area.
Funny, I thought, looking at a stand of poplars. The leaves are much brighter here. And one of the poplars had a gilded look. Then I realized: only one thing can gild an autumn poplar—a great ball of fire.
With typical prairie haste, the weather flipped from grey to glorious. Barely minutes later, the sky had blued to robin’s-egg, leaving a few remaining clouds to drift above like a flock of lazy sheep.
Suddenly our lunch of vegetables and sandwiches, consumed at a scuffed-up picnic table decorated with bird-droppings, became a feast. Even our spirits improved, confirming again what my friend Glenda, a nutritional consultant, often reminds clients. “The sun,” she says, “is God’s best anti-depressant. Get out in it!”
The sunny weather held until we reached B.C. and joined the rest of the family helping my parents make their transition. “It’s a mess, isn’t it?” Dad said of the boxes piled high in the living room. Mom sighed. Several times. Leaving home at 91 isn’t easy.
On Mom and Dad’s first night in their new apartment complex a youth choir came to sing for the residents. We stayed too.
“We are a Christian choir,” said the leader, with winsome cheer. “We only sing about Jesus. If you don’t like it, too bad!”
The songs began. Suddenly the Son burst through my family’s clouds of change. Confronted by life’s far less-than-golden winter, the reminder of Jesus’ constant presence massaged our tender spots and comforted us all. We left warmed.
Faith always rises when looking at the Son. No matter your road, let Christ brighten it.