Does any other month go by as fast as July?
I tend to think not. The month that is at the heart of the summer is always over in the blink of an eye. It seems that I was just gearing up for the Fourth of July festivities, and now here it is a month later, and July is no more.
The pace at which this July progressed, at least for me, was likely enhanced by some time off from work. The first such days weren’t really vacation. They were get-ready-for-visitors days — a whirlwind of cleaning, grocery shopping and cooking in preparation for the arrival of my sister and her husband, followed by an even crazier couple days while they were actually here.
One of the highlights of their visit was a family dedication rite for park benches recently placed in Olson Park in memory of our parents, Don and Dorthy Rickers, and in honor of our uncle and aunt, Russ and Jan Rickers. Brother Marty gets credit for spearheading the effort to erect the benches, and we decided it would be a good time to get some of the family together to formally acknowledge their placement.
Campers and passersby on the bike trail that wends it way around Olson Park that evening might have wondered what the small group of people was doing gathered around a park bench, loudly proclaiming “Amen” every once in a while and breaking into song.
Bro-in-law Don, a retired Lutheran pastor, put together the program with help from my sister, Margaret, taking some liberties with the readings and “hymns” selected for the occasion. The readings included John 4: 4-6: (Jesus finds a park bench.) Jesus had to go through Samaria. So he came to a city named Sychar near a plot of ground which Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. And Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting on a park bench by the well. It was about noon. (Translation not exact.)
There were two personalized “hymns.” The first, to the tune of “Daisy, Daisy,” (appropriate since they often pedaled around town on a tandem bicycle) was sung around Mom and Dad’s bench, which sits facing the bridge that crosses to Olson Park from the grade.
Donald, Dorthy, we think of your love so true;
You once pedaled on a bicycle built for two.
Around the lake you traveled, greeting friends and neighbors,
You sure looked sweet, upon the seats of a bicycle built for two.
Just down the trail a bit, overlooking Sunset Bay, we repeated the dedication, ending with this tune in honor of Russ and Jan, sung to “Swanee River.”
Way down upon Lake Okabena, Russ and Jan do roam.
Where the trees and grass are always greener — that’s where they have their home.
All around the lake they wander, hand in hand they stride.
Oh, walkers see this bench, remember, Russell and Jan, side by side.
In the days since the benches were dedicated, I have passed by them almost nightly on my bicycle, and the memory brings a smile to my face as I find myself humming “Daisy” or “Swanee River.” If you happen to be out at Olson Park, stop and sit for a while on one of these benches and remember these words Don used in dedication:
In a world of too much movement, too much worry and angst, we find places of rest where we can breathe deeply and merely BE. We look around us at the grandeur and peace of creation, and we recall the lasting goodness of God in our lives. Through loving relationships over the years, through children and grandchildren, the legacy of God’s love lingers at such places of sanctuary as these benches.