Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Early on the last morning of Upward Bound, I’m up finishing packing and preparing my devotion for after breakfast when I find the pomegranate in the bottom of my closet. I bought it a few days ago–for no real reason except that it was the first one I’d seen in the store since February–but in the hectic last-minute details and goodbyes of the final days of summer here, I’ve had no time to eat it. Pomegranates, you see, take time to eat. They are such a slow snack that they’ve become something of an autumn tradition for me. I go to the store, buy this tricky fruit, and set aside a half-hour or so to first pull it’s muscly white rind apart, and then eat the ruby-red seeds with a spoon.
I sit down on the deck with a Bible and my bowl of pomegranate seeds, ready to prepare this devotion on the ever-presentness of the love of Christ. I re-read Romans 8, learning that nothing can separate me from this overwhelming love. Proverbs 3 admonishes me to remember, always, the truth and kindness that lead to a life without stumbling. I’m struck by the many ways that we’re told to remember, by the repetitive insistence of both chapters.
Nothing, nothing, nothing can separate you from Christ’s love.
Remember, remember, remember this truth. Always.
They are important words for us today, all of us poised at the end of something, the beginning of many other things. It’s easy to imagine, when we’re standing on mountain peaks at sunset, when we fall asleep to the sound of rain on tents, that God is more present in places like these, times like this. When we leave or move on, whether we descend on foot or a train pulls us out of a valley we’ve grown to love, it’s tempting to feel lost, disconnected from what we thought was God’s presence, back in the beautiful places.
I prepare these thoughts as much for myself as for the students today. Last summer, I stayed two weeks after the end of Upward Bound, but this year I’m going right away back to Kandern. I’m thinking about what it means to me to return, how different it is now than it was a year ago, when I took the train to a new home I’d never seen. I know where I’m going now; at the same time, I’m another summer attached to this place that feels like home. It will be hard to leave here. Yet I’m thinking of an email exchange between myself and two of my former students, which I received a few days ago. It went something like this:
L: Hey Miss Dahlstrom!!
So me and D had a question for you. We were talking and he is convinced that “ishcabible” is a word. He says that its spelled wrong though. I disagree with him.
I hope your summer is going grand!! See you in a few weeks.
L and D
D: it means like whatever or something like that! i’m positive
Me: Iskabibble! It’s totally a word, American slang from the early 20th century. It means “Who cares?” or, as D correctly believes, “Whatever.”
“If you stay up late then it will be difficult to go to school in the morning.”
Happy to clear this up. Miss you both and see you so soon!
L: Wow! I can’t believe it! I was convinced I was wrong. D.. you won the bet. haha
miss you too Ms. D
I was so thankful for this, a teasing reminder of how much I love the people with whom I spend most of my time, people who live in the place where I’m returning. Like the pomegranate, whispering that fall is coming, the emails speak of changing seasons, and the goodness that is present everywhere. And as I prepare my final devotion for the students, prepare to remind them that God is ever-present, the one constant when relationships and circumstances keep changing, I am thankful even for the seasons, the changes, and the way I’ve been called, right now, to walk through many places in the faithful company of Christ.