Ron & I have pretty much had children between us the entirety of our marriage. Finding someone to watch the kids can be a problem, and we have gone for long stretches without having any time out as a couple. This is not good for anyone. Recently we found a sitter, so we have had a few dates. Being a bit rusty, I prayed about the first one. It turned out to be surprising and sweet.
It was winter, and there was a good amount of fresh snowfall. I had seen a on a friend's facebook some lovely woodland scenes she had posted from her morning trek that day. I thought we should follow her lead and take a walk along the same path near our home. The white blanketed trees sparkled in the stinging air. The crunching of our feet was fresh to hear against the quiet, not having kids along to yammer and make noise the whole time. It was enjoyable, but COLD. My friend's photos had failed to capture the wind chill, and though we were glad we had tried it, we made it brief.
Deliberating on our next destination, as we were driving, we saw signs for an art show. I love to look at artwork, especially without the kids. It turned out the exhibit was at the local high school. We decided to check it out. Upon entering the building we found it was a district-wide affair. They had everything from kindergarten classes and up, in all areas of fine arts. It was really pretty cool. As we wandered through the halls admiring the students' projects we came to a large, round, window-lit stairwell. A group of about fifteen highschoolers, dressed in medieval costumes, stood along the wall and across against the railing, curving up the staircase. The young men and women, completely at ease with each other and their audience, began to sing.
The hallway filled with rich tones in Renaissant harmonies. They were really good. As they sang they smiled, and I knew they were enjoying the wit of the lyrics and the fun of singing together. I was surprised by joy. After hearing all the time about troubles with teenagers, here they were--a whole bunch of 'em--sweetly singing. Their performance was flawless, provoking my emotions as music often does. I tried to hold the tears back. I felt so blessed to be at this lovely concert, unexpected. I was overwhelmed.
It reminds me of a time, many years ago, when I visited a church. I hadn't been to churches much in my life. The building was pretty, not huge, but stone, with large stained glass windows. It was a perfect spring morning, everything pale green, moist, first flowers in bloom. The air was sweet. Sunlight was streaming into the sanctuary. A flock of children came flowing in from the back, singing, as they came down the center aisle. Their voices were so beautiful, like angels, I thought. I had spent so much time in the dirt, their song was like a healing balm that flooded my tired, broken soul with hope.
It was there that the pastor spoke about this parable that Jesus told:
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off."--Matt. 18:12-13
It was like he was speaking directly to me, and at that time I desperately needed to hear it.
Fast-forward back to my date with Ron: After the art show we headed over to our favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. I discovered that Mexicans make the most wonderful cinnamony coffee. We had delicious avocado tostadas so gorgeously stacked they looked (and tasted) like birthday cakes. I was completely refreshed. The Lord always knows exactly what I need, when I need it. He is the Good Shepherd.