Today I decided to take Jocelyn to the park between errands. It was the perfect day to be outside. Sunny without being hot and there was a delicious salty breeze coming over the water that hinted at the autumn weather to come.
We started off on the playground, but in order to escape an incredibly annoying kid, (who thought I would be impressed by his ability to recite every single pokemon species by heart) I took Jocelyn from the slides and retreated to the oak trees. This turned out to be the best decision I could make.
Jocelyn has been very interested in squirrels ever since we switched her room to one with a window overlooking a spot where a family of squirrels has taken up residence. The park was full of them and she spent at least 30 minutes running from tree to tree trying to touch one with the same enthusiasm and cuteness level you would expect from a 6-month-old puppy. Her joy brought such delight to my heart.
As I followed her around the park, watching as she brought smiles to the faces of every person who saw her, I became aware of a shift in my soul. I felt peace. True peace, a gentle mixture of happiness and contentment. I can honestly say it’s the first time I have felt this way in nearly 5 months. There in the park, with the breeze swirling around me and a happy toddler before me, I was for a time completely free of the heaviness that I have been carrying. Free of grief, free of stress and fear, and loneliness. I probably would have cried if I wasn’t feeling so serene.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t spend the whole day in the park. I had groceries to buy and a daughter to feed and put down for a nap. But the feeling of tranquility has not left me yet. In the back of my mind, I have had these words from the hymn “It is Well” playing on a loop.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
The man who penned these words was not writing them from theory or for the sake of creating a pretty song. He was moved to write these words just after his four daughters all died in a shipwreck. “Sorrows like sea billows” were not just a metaphor for him. These words were written from his soul, not his mind. They were birthed from tragedy and so they move me now as I rise up from my own.
I have not always been able to connect to these lyrics and I am sure there are still more dark days to come. But right now I can honestly say “It is well with my soul”.
I never knew the sad loss behind this hymn. It makes it all the more special, I think.