I ponder. I'm able to do so only because I've woken early, had some fresh air and consumed twitch-inducing amounts of coffee. I have been doing this lately, waking early and pondering, because I have come to realize that I like starting my day on my own. I don't like waking up to the tune of other people's needs and demands. I like waking up quitely, gently, with some sunshine and some fresh air. I like to have a few minutes to compose my plan for the day and to enjoy my life in a peaceful state of mind. (I find, honestly, that I most love my home and my family when everyone else is asleep.)
So whilst I ponder this morning, I'm replaying parts of my daughters' mid-week sleepover. (It's spring break, so mid-week we needed something to spruce up the otherwise duller-than-steamed veggies 'vacation'.) As part of the evening entertainment for the first night, I rented one of my all-time favorite movies: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland. Aside from the fact that this is an awesome movie for all ages, I expected this to be particularly impressive because the kids are rehearsing for a school production of Oz and they hadn't yet seen the movie. I'm a genius, right?
Sadly, they spent more time fussing over the quality of the graphics and effects, the age of the artists ("She sings old."), and the slow pace of the story, than they did enjoying the magic of the movie. They didn't even like the good witch's dress, delcaring it "too poofy". What?? I was so bummed.
The next day, I took the girls to go see the Hannah Montana movie. Here, I was relieved to see that my girls were enjoying it, getting teary where appropriate and bopping to the sickly sweet music blaring through the theater. But their friends, who are growing up just a tiny bit faster than mine, were slightly bored and disinterested. My older girl has been sensing some distance between her and her friend. She was trying hard not to show her enthusiasm so as to not be so out of sync with her BFFL. It was a bittersweet moment, watching her struggle between her natural inclination to remain innocent and her growing desire to be more mature. For me, it was - it is - too early. Even if she's ready, I'm not.
And maybe that's because I've had too many early exits in my life. People who've gone away before I was ready. A friend of mine from chidlhood is struggling with that kind of loss right now. Her brother (I barely knew him) was younger than us. He had a wife and small children and died at the end of last year, unexpectedly. He was in his late 30s. So, now, his babies won't get to know him, his wife has lost her life's companion, his family is devastated. Too early. Sometimes being early is entirely the wrong thing to be.
And yet, on this Easter weekend, we are reminded that one good-bye is a hello, of sorts. Life is renewal and renewal is good. We are born in the Lord and return home to Him when He chooses. So our friend is gone too soon from this life, but he is an early riser in the life the Lord has made for him in heaven. Maybe, like me, he needed to rise before all of us, quietly, gently, with sunshine on his face, with some time to plan the day ahead. Maybe he is preparing the way for those who will come after. He is living a new life, watching over his loved ones, waiting for the day when they wake up in His arms, making sure they are met with full grace and with the glory of a good and generous God. In fact, I'm sure that's it. Benny is an early riser and he is home. And I still believe that in the end there's no place like home.