I heard the song of the cicadas outside my window and remembered the day we left Paradou. Jean Pierre held one between his fingers and told us how they live underground for seven years before emerging to life in that area of France. That’s how long it took me to write Conversations with Dad, I thought. And now, like the cicadas—which hatch, mate and live only a couple months, at most, before they die and their eggs return to the earth, and the cycle begins all over again—Conversations may connect to someone, then lie untouched for who knows how long! But I have come to realize and accept that life is always recreating itself, even when we don’t see it. As my brother always said, You gotta have faith.
Throughout his life, my dad read a section of the Old Testament, Psalms, Gospels and New Testament at the start of each day. He said, you discover a flow, and begin to realize how one book connects to another and comes to life in new ways. It sounded like a lot of reading to me. I never was a morning person—or a fast reader—but beginning in 2013, I gave it a try. Four sections, every morning, along with a big mug of extra hot coffee delivered to me by my husband. That was the important part because I could move into my chair untouched by the concerns and distractions of the day.
I did discover a flow, and was fascinated by the unexpected interconnectedness between the four different books I would read consecutively from the Bible. I was hooked, and a “new song” did begin to appear in my life. That March, I started writing my blog Sundays with Dad. I had never taken so much as a writing class and was never a great student, but one day at a time, my writing began to give me strength and renewed life after the death of, first my brother, than through my mom’s cancer and her own eventual passing.
I wrote to keep Dad’s stories—our family stories—and the scriptures alive in my heart. I wrote to keep my heart alive. And all the while I was writing Conversations with Dad, there was a continual, larger conversation taking place. My heart and mind were opening up to the Words I read like a conversation taking place between God and me. And every morning, I wrote down those conversations. I filled 11 journals that year and continued on to fill shelf after shelf. (If you run out of kindle, you know who to call.)
This past week, I dreamt about my parents—they were young again—and I woke up feeling the gaping void of their absence on earth. I wanted to hear their voices, feel their arms around me like never before. I had that claustrophobic kind of feeling where you’re caught in a space too small. So I pulled out those journals and I went to my chair, where the world extends beyond the depths of the earth and heights of the heavens. Then I opened up the little red devotional* I had started reading that year, and have continued to read every morning ever since. There must be songs on the way, I read. And then I opened up the old journal from January 2013 and there on the first page I’d written the words—He put a new song in my mouth (Psalm 40:3).
So now, like then, I step into life, reemerged, so to speak. The cicadas are symbolic of immortality. We live—we create—and like the cicadas, we continually die and reemerge. So I will sing to Him, my God, for He has secured the way for me to ascend.