This year has been full of those sunny days that make you think it’s still the beginning of September, though geese are already honking their way South and the helicopters in the maples are dry as bones. Who can resist the call of the warm sun on skin, bribing you to slow down into its transient beauty? Rest, enjoy, soak…winter will be here soon enough.
Lunches have been taken in the backyard, batting away the yellow jackets and wishing to forget all our chores and play hookie. The kids have gotten their swinging in, and we lie belly-down on the crunchy grass, reading books and rolling toward the rays as the sun moves and the trees give shadow.
It’s those moments when we return to the house and our chores and schedules that the eyes have a hard time adjusting. It’s dark inside; we are sun-blind. I would race back out and live in the brilliance of Indian summer. If only life were always autumn.
There’s gonna be a picnic in heaven and I’m gonna be there. There’ll be a great big table in heaven, with plenty of food to share…my daughter wants to listen to this every day.
“Nanu and Poppy and Grandma and Grampa will be there together, right?” she asks. “And all the people from California too!”
I laugh. Then she looks straight at me and says, “And Gracie and Ewan. They won’t be sick.”
They are acquaintances, grandchild of a colleague’s wife and daughter of a woman I’ve only met three or four times. But children, little ones, barely in Kindergarten and fighting cancerous tumour in their gut, cancer in their bones, body turning against fresh life. She says it and I cannot hold back the tears. Weeping for the surprise of it, for the hope of it, my innocent child so excited for the picnic in heaven, for the world of her longings, where all the fun grandparents will be together, everyone will enjoy watermelon at the endless table, and the bodies of babies will not betray them.
There’s gonna be a picnic in heaven…we need this hope. We need autumn days full of sunshine and bright leaves to fill us up before the bitter weeks of winter and its uncomfortable beauty. We need promise to hold us through the dark days, joy to turn back to and say, But I know God was there, He was there, and He was there. He must be here somewhere now too. We need picnics to dream of.