Prompt: What’s been the most important life lesson you’ve learned, perhaps in an unusual or unexpected way?
I grew up in Almost-Eden on the shore of Lake Michigan with an unadulterated forest for a backyard. Turkeys and deer meandered aimlessly across our lawn. Stately cranes with royal red crowns visited the marsh next door. Garden snakes, grasshoppers, toads—I watched them all with unabated interest, but the littler birds especially fascinated me. At breakfast every morning, I sat by the big window to watch them—hoping to identify a new and colorful variety. The rose-breasted grosbeak was my favorite.
While I exulted in nature, I also embraced my world of Vanders and Vans—a community of the hardy, down-to-earth Dutch. Grandparents lived close, friends and church still closer. It was a small world, but I loved it.
And then we moved.
My family moved south—dad got a new job, so we packed up and left Almost-Eden ten years ago. We moved to a city in a desert—a city of houses crammed close, six foot fences encasing postage stamp yards lined by alleys.
Before I realized how much I missed the down-to-earth Dutch, I missed the birds. I’ve not seen a rose-breasted grosbeak in ten years.
I visit the people in Almost Eden every summer. Today, some of them are gone. Three grandparents sojourned north to New Jerusalem. Others friends still greet me enthusiastically each summer. And every hello is paired with goodbye.
In the pain, I hear Jesus calling. He never gives up even though I took years to respond. “Angela, do you trust me?”
It’s the hardest question I’ve ever had to answer. But I do. I do trust Him.
Some days my heart might break, but His burst and that blood bought mine. Almost-Eden doesn’t own this heart; Jesus does. I may have lost home, but He left home to make a new home, a better Eden for me.
Almost-Eden is only almost Eden and heaven-home is Jesus’ arms. And I don’t know if there’ll be any birds there, but I will live in the shadow of His wings and never say goodbye.