I look out on the long shadows of early evening and I am reminded that the longest days of summer are drawing to a close. It always occurs to me sometime around the first of August that the days are slowly getting shorter. Oh, I know that according to the calendar this has been happening since the summer solstice on June 20, but it happens so slowly that it is unnoticeable until sometime around the first of August when I suddenly realize that the shadows are growing long earlier in the evening and I am flooded with memories of end of summer pool parties, shopping for school supplies, sun ripened tomatoes and long days of canning and gathering in the harvest, homemade ice cream, fresh watermelon, or ice tea and a good book on the front porch after supper. Each season of my life is rich with memories of time spent enjoying those last rays of a long summer day, knowing they are numbered.
When I was a girl I loved poetry and one of my favorite poems – I had many favorites – was “Only One Life” by Charles Thomas Studd. Although I don’t remember the lines, I remember that each stanza of the poem ended with the line, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” I am reminded of those powerful words as I watch the long shadows of early evening stretch far across the plains and my trees cast their image on the fence. I reflect on my day and ask myself, “what have I done today that will last?” I am often surprised to realize that it isn’t the things that I had planned for the day that stand out in my mind, but the unexpected events – the phone call from a friend that needed encouragement, fresh vegetables shared with a neighbor, a conversation with an adult child or with a parent, or simply a kind smile to a stranger. As I think about these unexpected interruptions to my day, I am reminded that I can do nothing good on my own, but all the good – any good at all – that I do is a gift from God. Sometimes there isn’t anything at all that I have done that appears to have any lasting value and my heart overflows with gratitude for the day that the Lord has made and His abundant grace to me – a woman with nothing good to give but praise for the day that has past.