The evenings are cool at this time of year in Colorado. The newness of Spring and the long days generate an overwhelming impulse to be outside. We are spending a lot of time in parks this month.

We even made a mid-week, impulsive, evening trip to Niwot to have pizza and gourmet ice cream on the patio at a little place called Lefty’s. It’s next door to the Niwot Inn where Renee and I have spent a couple of romantic weekends.

With the kids tagging along, there’s a little less romance and a little more noise, but the patio at Lefty’s still engenders dreams and visions and hope, not to mention good pizza and a game of chess. The bonus for this trip was the lightning storm to the east, as we drove back home, providing an early and awesome fireworks display like only heaven can produce.

Today, at the park for lunch with friends, the shade was almost too cool for t-shirts and the full-on sun was almost too warm for t-shirts, like going from mid-August heat into an air-conditioned living room.

After cleaning out the garage tonight, and topping off the fluid levels on the Pratt-family buses, we sat in the grass on the front lawn while the kids played basketball and skated and drew pictures of mom and dad with scary teeth and strange eyes.

The metaphorical contrast of the heat and shade seemed fitting as we struggled to cope with a waning weekend and kids laughing and playing while creating a constant wake of new work to be done. The work and weariness it brings can be sweltering to the soul, bringing a meltdown in minutes, unless the convenience of cool shade under the hard-to-hold joys and beauties of kids at play can be sustained.

The contrast is keen, turning on a dime, like a line across a page separating the real from the imaginary.

Makes me wonder how much of my time I waste seeing the negative and focusing on the hardship.  The balance is fragile, like seeking to sustain the perfect temperature.

Kids at play can either invoke disdain for the messes they’re making of themselves and their surroundings and the work required to restore order, or the highlights of God’s gifts – laughter and creativity from souls too young to be jaded and stifled.

These are the contrasts dancing through my brain on cool spring afternoons, and evenings when the breezes are too cool to leave the windows open after tucking the kids into bed with a kiss and a prayer.

Lord, thanks for Ethan. He’s a super-hero. Lord, thanks for Ellie. She’s beautiful. Lord, thanks for Noah. He’s Noah. Lord, thanks for Ben. He really wants to spend time with me. Lord, thanks for Meghan. Her smile oozes your joy. Lord, thanks for Ayda. She sparkles. Lord, thanks for Will. Is his voice really changing? Lord, thanks for Hannah. Help her sore fingers find the right chords for that latest song. Lord, thanks for Madeline. She starts dance classes this week. Lord, thanks for Katie. I want to be her friend. Lord, thanks for Renee. Oh God, thanks for Renee!

And thanks, Lord, for the cool of shade, and for the warmth of the sun which makes me appreciate the shade all the more.

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