Psalm 127:5

Woke up at 5:45 on loading-the-truck day, and immediately didn’t feel right.  Lightheaded, unsteady on my feet, weak.  

Came downstairs and eventually sat on the couch with a mug of green tea and opened to Psalm 18 – I love you, O LORD, my strength.  After reading that opening I paused, checked that I still felt weak, considered the arduous day in front of me, and decided against reading on.  Instead stretched out on the couch, and in the in-between of dozing off and sluggish consciousness the words my strength floated around me.

Picked up the Penske truck and at 9:45 was backing it up to our garage.  During my Penske excursion I had still felt off: whenever I turned my head quickly a profound notion of sleepiness passed over me.  Little ripples emerged at my periphery.  Weak.  My strength.  

Came into the house after parking the truck and saw my 2nd son Kai wrapping plastic around furniture.  A week ago Kai had surprised us by showing up from Fort Bragg where he’s been awaiting Special Forces selection.  The possibility of this homecoming arose from something equally unexpected:  an appendectomy.  So for three weeks he’s home on convalescent leave.  

Kai looked up from wrapping furniture.  “You can leave when the movers come…”  As always while talking with me Kai is deferential, trying hard.  If he were speaking to almost anyone else, you’d hear the imperative: “Leave when the movers come.”  But to me: “You can leave when the movers come.  I’ll take care of the loading.”  

The movers to which he referred were three young guys driving up that morning from Noah’s Ark, a whitewater rafting outfit in Buena Vista, CO.  Ben, my first born, had the idea to hire some rafter friends who had the day off from rafting.  He had contacted them, made the arrangements, and now they were on the way.  

Piddled around the house until the doorbell rang at 10:45.  Daniel, Grant, and Luke – strapping young men all – stood on our steps  As they filed into the house, the girls and I are putting the dogs in the car.  We headed to Chipotle, and then my mom’s.  

At my mom’s, after inhaling the Guajillo steak burrito, I laid down on the sofa.  Still worn out.  Over the morning I had developed a theory about my lightheadedness that still seems plausible:  A couple days before, I had hiked six miles at 9500’ but drank very little water.  Then the days following had been filled with activity and excitement and sugar.  So what I had been experiencing that moving day morning was a combination of dehydration, altitude sickness, and exhaustion.  My strength.

As I lay on the sofa Ben texts from work: “How’s it going?”  Brief response then drifted off to sleep.  

As I drift I think about our children.  We might have been a little more tender in rearing our three boys.  To put it mildly: we didn’t rush in to help them or alleviate their pain.  A small epitome: I recall many autumn Friday nights in New England when we were abed and Ben was biking home through bitter cold (sometimes rain too) after his football games.  

Speaking of boys and biking, this summer Paul is working a couple of jobs: leaves the house early and returns home late, going and coming by bike.  (A simple truth: college bills are, and must be erased.)  Well, the background to this anecdote is that for some time and to no effect Tonia had been on Paul’s case for riding his bike too fast, being preoccupied with his music and not conscious of traffic, and all with a wearing-helmet-be-damned attitude.  One rainy night around 10:30 Paul is racing home, hits a sidewalk curb, and flies over the top of his bike.  Bike is ruined, Paul is bleeding.  He texts his mom for some sympathy, maybe even a ride.  Tonia’s reply {with thick guttural accent}: “No, you need time to contemplate what {vot} you did wrong.”  (See text’s screenshot below)  Tough!  (We just hope it’s tough love…)

Back from this grim aside and returning to the peaceful scene of mom’s couch on moving day: I awoke after a brief nap in which Tonia reported heavy snoring.  Soon Kai texts: “You can come home now.”  We enter to a house almost denuded of furniture.  By the time we arrive the soldier is downstairs watching “The Godfather,” eating yogurt covered pretzels and dried apples.  

I walk to Walgreens and pick up some Clorox wipes and then take five minutes to clean the cab of the moving truck.  There’s my contribution to the day’s work.  My strength.

At 5:30 Ben texts from work one more time: “How’d it go?”


With this meandering story, I don’t mean to brag about my boys, though I am their grateful dad.  You certainly won’t suppose that herein I’m offering any child rearing expertise.  

No, I write to bear witness. I arrived at the end of the moving day with newfound appreciation and expanded conception of David’s words: I love you, O LORD, my strength.  

And though that morning I didn’t make it to the phrase toward the end of the psalm, with gusto now I join David, This God – His way [a way which prizes a “quiver full” of sons] is perfect.  

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