May has gathered her full green skirts about her and left our hills, allowing June to enter with her roses, brides and graduates. Each year brings a new crop of high school graduates; proud and tearful parents and relieved teachers. June is a delightful month, a tantalizing prelude to summer. The fields and meadows are filled with masses of daisies that march down the sloping road banks and line the highway with their golden-eyed blossoms.
The air bears the scent of summer; the sweet smell of drying hay in the fields, mingled with fragrance of tangy wild onion and sweet clover. The sun beams down hotter on the early garden crops, spurring their growth after the recent rains. The leaves are full and green on the trees, and the hills are garbed in varying shades of green.
Late evening is the best part of the day. Deepening shadows creep along the creek and darken in the hollows between the hills. Sitting on the porch, the cares of the day seem to melt away as we listen to the night sounds. There is a sleepy twittering from the bird nest high in the maple tree, as the little fledglings settle down for the night. A loud “jug-o-rum” comes booming from the ditch, as the resident bullfrog makes himself known.
Tree frogs quirr from nearby tree branches and make a lulling sound, and we are content in our rocking chairs as we watch night descend. A wayward breeze springs up and refreshes our spirits. Conversation is low and muted, in keeping with the night sounds, and we are relaxed and happy. The only thing missing is the clear, plaintive cry of the whippoorwill that used to call from hill to hill, but is heard no more here. A line from a song that Daddy used to sing comes suddenly to my mind-”The catbird calls and the sleepy whippoorwill; the tune of the moon goes behind the hill.”
How many June evenings have we sat on the front porch with murmured conversation, listening to the day draw to a close and watching night settle about us. Porch sitting has nearly died out, as folks gather about the TV and watch their favorite shows instead. We’ve lost a lot-there’s nothing more satisfying than a family gathering on the porch at dusk and discussing the day’s happenings.
June is a month for nostalgia and remembering. It is a month of roses, daisies, and vining honeysuckle. It is graduation time, weddings and Father’s Day. Then it is class reunions, wedding anniversaries and family reunions. High school graduation is one of the highlights at this time of year, and we have witnessed many.
It seems that the first child and the last one to graduate are the hardest on parents. When Michael walked across the stage to accept his diploma, my heart was filled with pride, but my eyes filled also with tears. It is such a definite step toward adulthood, and he seemed so young to face the world. Then came Patty, and Kevin, Andy, Matthew and the last little bird to leave the nest-Crystal. That was a hard one! When she went on to college, we had an empty nest. But not for long!
The grandchildren began arriving. Soon, so soon, there were 22 of them, and in the blink of an eye, they began graduating. This year, our first great-grandchild marched across the podium to receive her diploma-Morgan Lorena Bragg. She is the daughter of Joshua Bragg, who is the son of Kevin. This is the beginning of 31 great-grandchildren. And the beat goes on . . .
The exodus of great-grandchildren has begun, and my heart quivers at the thought. In a heartbeat, it will be one, then two or three at a time to meet the world head-on. There is no way to shield them from the world. I look at them now, with carefree hearts and light spirits as they play their childish games, and wonder what will become of them. They are growing up in a vastly different world than the one we grew up in as children.
They are faced with pressures that we never dreamed of, and surrounded by a different atmosphere. They are much more advanced in knowledge, sophisticated in culture and mature for their years. They are growing up in a world where crime and violence is rampant. Corruption in government is commonplace and wickedness abounds in high places.
So what do we as parents, and grandparents (and great-grandparents) do? We pray. In this fast-changing world, the only unchanging thing is the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ. We pray for God to hold our young ones in His hands; we pray for the parents to have the wisdom to direct their children in the right way; to instill in them a love for God and His teachings that will lead them to salvation. We pray for the children to find that Anchor early in their lives; that Anchor to the soul that holds us steady when the world is in turmoil.
Our pastor preached a message some time ago about the changes that time has wrought. He said that nothing ever remains the same in this life, and it is true that our life is just a series of mile posts. Death is part of living, and if time lasts it will come to all of us. Just like the high school graduates, we hover from time to time on the threshold of another stage of our life, until we come to that final one. The most important thing in our lives is to know that we can stand before God uncondemned.
The measured beat of time has brought us to June once more. It is a time for love, for memories, for living. Let us make the most of it.
Looking back, I found a clipping that underlines the quick passage of time. It was written when our pastor’s daughter Michelle was staying overnight, and she found a snapshot of her and Crystal when they were five or six years old, complete with snaggle-toothed grins and knobby knees. (They were about 13 at the time.) They are now, or will be soon, 47 years old.
“Oh, those were the good old days,” she sighed wistfully. Criss laughed, and asked her if she knew when the good old days are. “They’re right now,” he told her. He was right, as usual. Too many times we miss out on enjoying the “now” because we are looking back on the past or forward into the future. “Now” is all we really have.