“Cast your bread upon the waters,
for after many days you will find it again.”
Somehow I lost this summer . . . and I am not really sure where I lost it. It was the summer that wasn’t. The first two summers that we moved to Montana was filled with lots of outdoor activities . . . hiking, critter creeping, visiting Yellowstone, cruising the Beartooth Pass, and generally enjoying the great outdoors. This summer . . . well, not so much—one measly hike! Oh, I could blame it out the unseasonably hot summer we had here in Montana—about fifteen degrees above normal most days, but I don’t really think that it had much to do with the weather. If anything, the weather was just an excuse.
Nope, it was just a lost summer and I have been contemplating this feeling for a couple of weeks now. My lost summer has nothing to do with the weather . . . it had more to do with “casting my bread upon the waters.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 is one of my favorite Bible verses. The imagery of casting one’s bread upon the waters is a powerful metaphor as it speaks towards what I now realize I have been feeling for a couple of months—primarily the months of summer.
The story of the writer of Ecclesiastes is a powerful story of navigating life . . . of attempting to discover what it is that gives one happiness and purpose in life. I like to tell people that it is about a guy going through a mid-life crisis. Though technically I am in mid-life, my children tell me I am on the downhill slide of life, I am not going through a mid-life crisis. But that is what is happening to the writer in Ecclesiastes, whose motto seems to be: “Eat, drink, and be happy!” I can vouch on that part of the story for myself . . . I have eaten, drank, and been happy. Nothing gets between me and the table. No, there is no mid-life crisis, it is more of a recognizing of the changes in life. At one point the writer of Ecclesiastes throws his bread upon the water . . . and waits . . . waits to see what returns. He places it in the hands of God.
Not realizing it, that is what I did this summer. A lot of changes took place since May. The youngest son graduated college, moved to Utah to be with his true love, and basically abandoned his old man. Gone were my hiking buddies (the youngest and his bride-to-be) and I was left to search for adventure alone. Little did I realize how deeply connected we were . . . and I casted it upon the waters . . .
The wife and I started the summer with one beautiful granddaughter in Colorado with another one in Alabama that joined the family at the tail end of July. At the present time we only have a relationship with one as the mother of the other has chosen to deny us a relationship with our granddaughter. There is a lot of anger and hostility on the mother’s part, a lot of frustration and confusion on our parts. The granddaughter in Alabama is a beautiful joy and our adventure with her is just beginning, but it hurts to think about what could have been with the beauty in Colorado. So I casted it upon the waters . . .
The house was emptier than it has ever been before in our lives this summer. With the youngest and his bride-to-be down in Utah . . . the oldest living in Colorado . . . and the daughter, son-in-law, and newest grandchild in Alabama . . . there was less noise and activity in the house. The one child who lives with us still is an introvert and despite his best efforts he barely made a din. I discovered that I missed the noise and activity of having family around. I casted it upon the waters . . .
Probably last, but by no means the least, was my health. The winter months were too good to me as I let my body enjoy life a little too much. Let’s just say there is more of me to enjoy life. Add to that the fact that my thyroid still was not quite acting as it should have been, which raised my cholesterol, and I didn’t always quite feel like myself. Watching my diet, a little of better life through chemistry, and things are beginning to look a whole lot better. But with my health . . . I casted it upon the waters . . .
My mother always enjoyed autumn the best. She said that it was the time of the year when everything in nature and life was beginning to slow down. It was a good time for sitting back and reflecting upon life. I understand what she means . . .
Edwin Way Teale writes: “For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.” I think that which I casted upon the waters has returned . . . the time for harvesting its worth is now. In its return I have discovered the blessing of gift. I have discovered a rich and deep connection—relationship—with my family that cannot be lessen despite the distance that is between us. True, they may not be physically with me, but they are in my heart no matter where my adventures may take me. In that we are always together and the reunions are wonderful. In my granddaughters, yes, granddaughters I have found a deep joy and hope for what may come . . . nothing can ever separate us for that love runs deep whether we ever see each other again. A part of me is in each of them, and they are always within me. There is always hope for what may be. And, my health . . . well, unknowingly wallowing around lamenting a summer lost is no way to appreciate the gift God has blessed me with—life. It only adds to the waist and waste. I have no one to blame for that but myself.
Happiness and purpose . . . both came back even though that was not what I was expecting. It is found in the relationships in my life. I have been blessed with a wonderful family that continues to grow . . . a beautiful place to call home . . . and purpose for getting up each and every day. No, not work . . . I get paid to do that. No, in the relationships that grace my life each and every day. Life is in the relationship. Sometimes we just look for it in the wrong places. Sometimes we just need to cast our bread upon the waters . . . God will return it . . . and then we will know.