In south Louisiana, the ninety plus degree heat coupled with nearly 100% humidity makes for a perfect sauna but a rather difficult environment to play and work in after about 11 am. The longer it takes to get outside, the higher the sun. The higher the sun, the more sweaty and irritable everyone will be.
This morning, though, the air is unusually brisk for mid July, a surprise gift left behind after a late night shower that swept quietly through our farm while the world slept. Still, I know it won't last.
Before the stifling Louisiana heat can reclaim its summer throne, we four tumble out the door for our morning mile--two journeys up and down the gravel drive. We walk from sun to shade to sun again. Our feet move swiftly as the sun presses down hard on our heads, then unconsciously we slow within the shadow of the trees and hay barns.
The morning run/walk may be for exercise, but for my children, it is an exciting excursion. This week alone, the children have spotted a fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar climbing a dewy blade of grass, a freshly squashed toad with its "heart" displayed outside its body (or so says my eldest), and piles of red and yellow leaves, a promise of the autumn to come.
Today finds all three underfoot, as usual. Difficult for a mother trying to increase speed and heart rates.
"We're hiding in your shadow!" says one. The other two quickly join in the game.
Three tones of happy laughter join the songbirds' morning hymn. I can't help but smile at this song of childhood which is contagious as the three skip and leap, jockeying for position, all trying valiantly to find my always-moving shadow and rest within its shade.
Daughter's shadow disappears within mine for a split second before reappearing behind, her long legs stepping high to catch up again. Both sons try but fail to completely vanish beside me.
"I'd need to be a lot wider to hide either of you anymore," I laugh. "You've gotten too big."
Logic is irrelevant, and they repeatedly keep trying to seek shelter within the thin strip of protective darkness I cast. Soon, we turn a bend in the road, the sun's angle shifting to where our shadows now walk before rather than beside us.
All three finally concede the impossibility of what they've been attempting and race ahead.
The moment of needing mommy has passed, and all scatter to make their own way. Daughter lags behind in pursuit of something in nature that catches her eye. Oldest son runs far ahead, ever desiring to be first to beat his younger brother who stoops before me to examine a rock.
The verse hearkens back to the Psalmist who wrote, "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings." (Ps. 36:7).
Even in their shadow play, my children remind me of both my desire and my inability to protect them. I long to be that mama hen who gathers her brood to hide them in the shadow of my wings, but I am insufficient for the task. I'm simply not "big enough"
My God, though, is "big enough." No matter the sun's angle, my brood can fully rest within His shadow, completely protected.
With summer's end just a few short weeks away and my twins starting school for the first time, I rest in this thought, knowing His shadow is large enough when all three of my independent little chicks leave my side.