Crunch of snow beneath our shoes
Cold wind nipping at my nose
Winter’s chill hurries steps
Foggy breath declares the news
Summer long gone
As crisp air beckons
Some venture forth
I blink at bright sunlight
Dream of lazy warm days
And retreat like woodland creatures
To my sheltered den
Cool touch of dew on morning’s grass
Soft breeze stirs leaf and bough
Tread of foot and word of greeting
Hoes in hand and hats for shade
Bark of dog and back door closing
We make our way to tend summer’s garden
Bare toes in earth’s fresh soil
Soon may seek shoe’s insulation
Sun is rising as weeds are cleared
Call of mourning dove quiet pleasure
Accompanies day’s song of life
Lawn mower thrum and tractor rumble
Rasp of blades and rip of grass and weed
To free tender promises hidden in their midst
Thoughts and dreams of summer’s bounty
Rhythmic movements lift and fall
Another row completed now
Heat and sweat are well repaid
Cool glass of water to quench our thirst
And splash upon warm faces
Times we share in our summer garden
Ah! The joy of releasing tired, hot feet from the confines of shoes and socks! My mom and I used to kid about our “hillbilly blood” because our shoes inevitably fell off when we came home. Warm summer rain showers were the perfect opportunity for my brothers and me to splash barefoot up and down our gravel drive in town. On summer trips with the family, I remember digging my toes into the soft warm dirt of my grandparents’ country drive. Have you ever walked through a wet vegetable garden and ended up doubling the thickness of the soles of your shoes with mud?! Just walking becomes an effort.
Sometimes our lives get like that, mired down with stuff that drags us down and overwhelms. We splash barefoot before God in our pain and doubt and it is difficult to see joy. When His wonderful grace and love showers down upon us, we in our weariness do not always see it. We may be unable to receive until it has had time to soak in. I love the words of the psalmist who wrote, (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. * Like on those warm summer days, we can dig our toes into the strength of His being. God lifts us up and sets us on solid ground. What joy and release when we stand with Him in faith, free of the confines of life which weigh us down!
* Psalm 40:2
Apples! I love apples! …I remember the taste of crunchy, sweet apples fresh off the tree in the backyard of our small-town home when I was growing up. The smell of apples cooking as Mom busied herself about the kitchen making apple butter and jelly, pies, and applesauce still lingers in my mind! Those wonderful summer days of gathering apples, listening to the neighbor’s honeybees about their work, and resting in the cool shade of their boughs are forever etched in my memory. I can still hear the sounds of laughter as my three brothers and I played, worked, and ate our fill of those apples!
Have you ever wondered where the phrase “the apple of my eye” came from? The writer of Deuteronomy says that God found his people in a desert land, “a barren and howling waste,” but cared for them and guarded them “as the apple of his eye.” The psalmist prayed to God, “Keep me as the apple of your eye”! This phrase is literally translated “the little man of the eye.” …If you look closely into the eyes of someone, you can see your own image reflected in that round central circle of their pupil. Think about it. Our very image is reflected in the eye of God! How awesome is that?!
God watches over us. Cherishes us. He keeps our very image before Him! Like those childhood memories, He brings comfort and joy to His children.