Along the river near the place I grew up, trees are casting down their leafy gold.
Autumn light washes over the blonde hair of my two year old grandson, as he sits on the grassy knoll that rises just above where the other children are playing. In one sand covered hand, he clutches the last graham cracker as if it his most prized possession.
I flinch at the thought of all those fishy-smelling granules going into his mouth, but resist the urge to fix it.
Sitting beside him with the sun warming our faces, I snap pictures as the other children move along the sand bank with their buckets and shovels, oblivious to the last snack being devoured.
They are too busy hunting for treasure to care about soggy crackers covered with sand or much else for that matter.
In preparation for this outing I had gone to one of their other favorite places in the whole world, the local ‘Fort Cody Trading Post.’ It is possibly the biggest tourist trap this side of the Great Divide, but my grandchildren beg to go there.
All. The. Time.
You and I would both think they would get enough of cheap trinkets, but apparently this is not the case. They love the wide variety of plastic weapons, the two-headed taxidermy calf and the old jail house that is deteriorating in back of the Fort.
The Fort needs to be a blog post of its own, but I have to mention it because that is where I found the pyrite stones, better known to many as, “Fools Gold.” I figured it would add a little fun to the outing. My friend Tamran had purchased gold panning equipment earlier this year, for a trip her family had taken to the mountains. So, with those key "gold panning" items plus small shovels and buckets we were set.
As the children dug in the sand, I slipped a hand full of the pyrite into each of their bowls. They thought that was fine, but what I loved about them, is that they weren't obsessed to find the nuggets. They each found their own space and rhythm as they combed the river’s edge. Splashing, digging, engaged in conversation.
I want freeze this moment in time for them, for me.
Each one of these kids are such individuals. Their eyes clear, their faces soft from the love they each get to live. They are brave and good with tender hearts.
I think of the mistakes I made raising their mommies and hope their parents can skip the things that tripped me up. Such as going too much, having to-do lists and to-be list.
A breeze ripples across the slow moving water as it laps against the edge of the shore and I think about the things I deeply desire for each of these precious children. I pray theirs would be years full of life, not just activities. That they would have room, to breathe, without every minute scheduled. That they would not have to try to be what someone else hopes they will be or have the pressure to appear to have it all together.
I pray that they are able to grow in grace and stature. That they will be able to follow their own hearts and dreams and not someone else’s.
I pray that they live without regrets.
Goodness knows I have my share of regrets as a mom, who raised their moms.
There are a few things I have learned.
I've learned that ultimately I am not in control. When my children were doing well or not-so-well, it was God who was weaving His grace through their stories and I can rest in that.
I can rest in His forgiveness for my shortcomings.
I can rest in the fact that my story isn't finished, my children’s stories aren't finished and my grandchildren’s stories are not finished.
Oh, thank goodness for that -right?
As they are out there digging deep for treasure, I find myself praying that their lives are full of the things that money cannot buy. Such as peace, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Money can’t buy integrity, trust, respect or contentment and they have high value in a world that doesn't have much of that around.
So on that beautiful afternoon, as warm autumn light washes over us,with feathery cirrus clouds floating overhead, I sat and I prayed for these precious ones and also the two other granddaughters that are too small to appreciate things like hanging out with us and eating gritty graham crackers.
At the end of the day, it surprised me how much my grandchildren all enjoyed the digging, the finding of a little treasure, yet none of them were caught up thinking there was great value in those stone. In fact some left them behind, some asked me to keep their “gold” for the next time we get to have a day together.