I wrote this seven years ago.
Hope and I were driving home from work. We had carpooled, her to the pizza place, me to the church. I picked her up, rolled the window down, and headed home.
It was the first warm Spring day we’d traveled together. I handed her the end of a cable. One end was plugged into the radio. The other was for her phone, full of music.
“What do you want to listen to?” she asked.
“The windows are down,” I said.
And soon Ben Rector was singing about summer. Very loud. Through scratchy speakers. We smiled.
It’s what we do when we ride together in warm. We listen to music loud. And sometimes we sing. And then we talk and then turn up the volume again.
I looked over at Hope. Through the window on her side of the car I saw a man with his hands near his face and a little girl bending over. And then we were past.
As I processed the photo in my mind, I realized that he was blowing bubbles and she was chasing them with the delight and intensity of a three-year old on the first warm Spring day that she and her dad were traveling together.
Hope kept singing. I was crying. Nearly twenty years on from that dad and daughter, as they were making a tradition, we were keeping our own. I started smiling soon again.
I know that it’s two days after Easter. And I should be telling us a story from the Resurrection.
But I am. Jesus came and lived and died and rose and ascended. Because of that, I can stop feeling so guilty about not measuring up and working hard to prove my value to God. I can glimpse a dad creating bubbles that delight his daughter and understand that God, at times, gives us perfect warm afternoons. And on one of those afternoons, I can roll the windows down and turn up the music and treasure every moment that Hope rides shotgun.
Happy Birthday Hope. And Seven years on, I’m grateful that we still get some afternoons together, now working on writing projects. Like God. We Still Need You: A Year of Pandemic Prayer and Practice From a Hospital Chaplain.