Chip Dodd says “Sadness is the honoring feeling” and that “gladness always comes with sadness” because in this life (post Genesis 3) gladness always gives way to the losses of this life. No gain this side of heaven escapes the losses of Eden.
Sandwiched between speaking at conferences in two different cities thousands of miles apart, I was able to route my flight to spend a couple days with my oldest daughter JennaRae and her newlywed husband Josh. JennaRae is a fantastic young woman . . . beautiful in all the ways a father hopes for his daughter. I enjoy her presence and I delight in who she is.
I love watching JennaRae as a new wife. I love her husband Josh. I marvel at his love for her and I am deeply satisfied watching how she completes him and what a better man he is with her at his side. I love watching them fight and work it out. I love watching him hold her hand. I love knowing he cherishes her and has a heart to care for her.
I would not trade this season of life for any other. I find myself enjoying JennaRae more than I ever have, if that’s possible.
Before departing this morning to catch a flight to my next destination, I cupped JennaRae’s face in my hands, kissed her on her sunburned forehead and both of her cheeks, held her for a moment standing there by the car, and did not want to let go. She wrapped her arms around me tightly and my heart was full . . . glad and sad.
Glad - there is no privilege greater in this world than being her dad.
Sad - life moves on and the moving on is sometimes cruel. Where did time go?
By now, I’m sitting on the plane and my thoughts are drifting, wondering what my grandchildren will call me when JennaRae and Josh have children someday (God willing). Grandpa? Gramps? Granddad? Others around me on the plane are getting buckled into their seats for takeoff. But I am somewhere else - lying on my back on my living room floor with a little boy or girl playing the same games I made up with JennaRae when she was a little girl – the same games played with each of the other five kids who came after her . . . “balancing – balancing!” Laughing. Drinking in every moment not wanting it to end.
The flight attendant approaches and tells me they have an open seat in First Class – a small reward for the many miles I fly on their airline. I jump up and almost run for the wider seat and extra legroom knowing I just might be able to get an hour of sleep on this flight.
In my new seat, I am now sitting next to a young mom holding an eighteen month old little girl who looks like JennaRae did 22 years ago when Brenda and I took her on her first flight from Portland (where I was in seminary) to Minnesota (where I was speaking at a weekend retreat). This little girl smiles at me while intermittently wanting to look out the window at the men loading bags on the plane.
Like two bars of enriched uranium slamming together within the confines of a nuclear bomb casing, glad and sad collide and the tears explode behind my eyes – a small offering of the larger explosion going on deeper inside me.
Glad and Sad.