Umbrellas live short, exciting lives in our household, but are rarely used for rainy day outings. We spin them, use them for boats or dance routines and cross them in elegant sword fights. But mostly they are Malachi's instant shelter. An invitation to dine with Malachi, often consists of a blanket, crackers, cheese, olives, apples and juice somewhere under an umbrella - currently, a cheetah patterned one, with a fantastic wooden curved handle. Recently, I found him sitting under its gentle canopy for shade, amidst a lovely row of pansies growing in the cracks of the paving stones. We sat together to admire the turned up faces of each unique flower. When two are lying chin to ground under the shade of one umbrella, the amazing tiny world of under-foot- dwellers takes center stage. Little industrious insects crawl about, others alight and then disappear, oblivious to our presence. On closer view, not only had pansies bloomed in the stone crevices, but also blue Jack Frost and a robust strawberry vine. In the centimeter wide space between pavers a whole living world thrives together, softening and beautifying each sharp edge and tight space. They are the joyful example of living in community.
Last weekend we celebrated Gabriel and his graduating class. Teachers, classmates, neighbors, friends and family joined in fellowship on Saturday evening while three dear musician friends filled the house with music. We were an ecclectic group gathered side by side in the like minded purpose of celebration and launching, each fulfilling our own niche in close community. The blessing of God's intentional relationships has covered this short season like an umbrella. I must remember the intent of raising my children is to release them. As seeds scatter, so must they; strong and vibrant, ready to inhabit their own new world of possibilty and purpose.