It is early morning. It is dark. The sun has yet to wake from its slumber.
The trees are silent under the weight of the fog, and the cool air softly touches my face.
There is a chill in the air, but it is not cold. So many years it has been frigid in these early morning hours.
This is my favorite part.
How many years have I walked this path?
How many times have I traveled this road with him?
This is my favorite part.
We set off, down the now familiar dirt road. The air is damp and the leaves make a quiet shushing sound under our feet. We can hear the coyotes, throwing up their last cry into the darkness. I follow him into the woods. Always, my eyes find his broad shoulders, wrapped in the warmth of his ridiculously bright orange parka.
He cradles his rifle in his arm as he walks. Confident, quiet steps. And I follow him. Like a duckling I follow my dad. My Titan. My superhero. Wherever he walks, I will follow. I know this forest; he knows it better. This is my job. Only to follow.
This is my favorite part.
He will deposit me into my spot, the spot he gave me, and then continue to his own. I will not be able to see him, but he will not be far. He does not go far from me.
But this year it hurts.
Again? I think. The thing that got broken was broken so long ago. Like bubbles from a shipwreck, the pain rises up from the watery depths again and again. Why? All these years later. Someone very wise told me this is the lasting legacy of divorce. The husband and the wife walk away with hardly a scratch. But the children are wounded forever.
The moment the important thing got broken became a hash mark in my life. A slash across time. There is what we had before,. And what came after. For all these years I have kept them separated. I wrapped up what came before. Protected it, preserved it. Left it sealed up and untouched.
But this year is different. Last weekend, the first of the season, I alone followed.
I have struggled with this. My heart has been breaking in anticipation of this walk.
This is the moment. The new collides with the old.
Before there were two. Now there are three. There is a new one.
I want to cry out that she doesn't belong in this place. I want to stomp and cry and ask if nothing is sacred.
And then a light dawns. And I see it. Did I do that? Did I really...?
Did I build an altar? In my heart, did I construct a place to worship something that should not be worshiped? Did I come to treasure the thing that got broken so much that it became too important?
I think that maybe I did. I know that God loves my parents. I know that he loved their marriage. I know that He loved, maybe still loves, the thing that got broken. That was their choice, not His.
But this. This is His choice. Perhaps He put her here. God knows what we need.
Perhaps my superhero needed to experience what he missed the first time. He was absent the first time. He was young then. He didn't know what he missed.
Perhaps the new one needs a superhero. Yes. She definitely needs one. She hasn't got one of her own.
Perhaps God saw all of this. Perhaps He put his perfect plan into place.
He knew this would be difficult for me. He knew it would hurt. That my heart would break again.
I have been praying to Him for weeks. Please help me see. Please heal my broken heart. I have done the best I can these last weeks, but still... I have not behaved well. I have struggled to exercise the fruits of the Spirit, so bruised has been my heart. But so far... nothing. Just the hurt.
My God is big.
He has heard me. He came before me to light the way.
As the sun comes up, I can see. The wind moves over the hills, and I think this must be what it is like when the Holy Spirit moves over the Earth. It is like the very breath of God moving around and through the trees.
And in that moment, I stop. I stop crying. I stop raging. I stop fighting. I stop resisting.
I let Him do what it is I asked Him to do. What I know He wanted to do from the start. I let Him heal my broken heart. I embrace His most perfect plan. I accept the gift He has given me. I accept that He has given a gift to them.
I still follow when we walk on that dirt road. But now I do not follow blindly. I have a purpose.
The Titan leads. The new one follows. I follow her. But I am no longer a duckling. Now I am a watcher. I know this forest. The new one doesn't know it yet. So I watch out for her. I point my light in front of her feet. I know where the puddles are without looking. She needs the light to see them. I am here in case she falls behind. I already know where she is going. She doesn't know the way yet.
Things have changed. But not everything. I know this now.
Because in a quiet moment, my Titan told me something important. He told me how much he enjoyed the time when only we came here to this place where I set down my roots. He told me that he remembers, too, how it was before the thing got broken. He told me that this is not just a place for the old. It is a place for the old and the now and the new. And he told me that he loves me.
And I know that we can love the old. And we can love the new. And that loving the new doesn't diminish the love we have for the old. And I believe him. Because he is, and will always be, my superhero.