If you have ever laid in bed and wept because of a person you will forever miss or occasions and enjoyments you have been deprived of because of one hard circumstance or another, I pray this story will soften your pain. I wrote this account a couple years ago and even today it is one of my favorite writings ever. It seems even the original emotions, once so deeply felt as I typed this story out, have been made afresh as I read through it once again this evening.
I want to share a most extraordinary experience I had a couple years ago where God for one second took me out side the parameters of this world and deep into the heart of my daughter.
My daughter Erin, upon entering the University of Kansas received a letter from the Athletics Dept. inviting any interested freshmen women to try out for the KU Women's Rowing Team. Having been a recreational runner through out high school and being bold of spirit she decided to give it a try. After many challenging hours and much pain she was accepted onto the Novice Rowing Team. For a year's hard work Erin, was then elevated to the Varsity squad her sophomore year and awarded a full four year athletic scholarship.
It seems almost four years had gone by and because of the distance and my lack of funds I was never able to visit my daughter on campus nor see any of her races. I knew that it was a "must" that I at least attend the last home race of her senior year. This is an event, where besides the race, the KU Athletics Dept. puts on a big BBQ for all the fans and also included is a ceremony honoring the parents of the graduating senior crew members, along with their daughters.
My ex-wife and Erin's mother not being able to attend this event, just raised the stakes higher for me to be there. Three weeks away and after much prayer I still saw no way that I was going to be able to afford a flight to Kansas for the race. I was just heart broken and I was letting God know in prayer how much this hurt, when in the midst of my petitions I received a phone call from my sister offering to fly me out to the race. She, her mate and two of my other sisters were all going to be flying in for Erin's celebratory weekend and they wanted me there for sure.
Lest I take from my dramatic event, I will tell you now that we ended up with about fifteen Erin supporters in our crowd and when we left Lawrence Kansas after that weekend we were the talk of all the girls and their parents as they marveled at the fun and exuberance we had in loving and rooting for our girl. All of us in the group were stone sober during our whole stay but because of our joy we were often asked what we were drinking. LOL
One other exceptional event I want to share that lends undeniable support to God's miraculous ways, concerns an oversight of mine that became apparent at the Kansas airport. I found myself in a terrible dilemma when upon securing my reserved rental car it was noticed my drivers license was expired thus negating any use of a rental car. My daughter's apartment was forty minutes away, and as I was standing out on the curb contemplating how I was going to complete my journey, a woman in a van drove up. She asked me if I had seen some people waiting for a shuttle. I said no and asked her where she was going and she told me Lawrence, which is where my daughter lived and where the university is located. She then told me to hop in when I told her of my destination. Now that's God's curb side service and how did He know I would never once be in need of an automobile the whole time I was there?
I spent five days in my daughter extra bedroom that week and I would accompany her each afternoon to the river for rowing practice. In those five days I was blessed to enjoy all of her day to day activities, meet all her friends and visit all her haunts. It could not have been a more enjoyable and precious time, even without my miraculous experience which was soon to come.
So the big day of the race and celebration has arrived and it is an absolutely stupendous day to spend on the river; warm, still and not a cloud to be seen. We watched all the early races with Erin in our company, while anxiously awaiting the final and most important race of the day. I am weeping right now as I begin my account of what shall take place during this; Erin's last ever home race of her rowing career.
Being an ex-professional photographer I had brought my 35MM camera with all the lenses so I might capture the events of that day. I was set up on the shore about fifty yards in front of the finish markers in anticipation of getting that magic shot where Erin and the girls will absolutely be giving it their all during the final sprint. It was so amazing to feel the heightened anticipation within the crowd and myself as the boats came into site a mile away. The closer they came the louder the crowd cheered and as the boats closed in to where I was standing every one was hollering and clapping as loud and as hard as they could. Just as the Kansas boat, which was in a narrow lead, barely passed where I was standing I readied my camera with it's long telephoto lens on Erin for that perfect shot. Looking through that lens it was hard to comprehend the beauty and perfect rhythm of eight girls rowing together while exerting every last ounce of their energy and strength for the last few meters of the race.
I tightened in my focus and moved from the whole of the boat to where I could just view Erin filling up the frame. I fine focused and as I hit the shutter button it happened! In one single, incredible mind altering second God took me deep into Erin's precious heart and I experienced every moment she had given to rowing in the last four years. I felt every ache and blister she had ever suffered during those years. I gloriously experienced all the joy she had received and also the whole of the disappointment she had ever endured during her four long rowing seasons. I tasted deeply the spirit of camaraderie she shared with her many boat-mates along with the encouragement, sisterhood, and closeness that had grown strong between them. Incredibly I also was given understanding of all the days Erin had gotten up at five in the morning to train in the cold and rain plus all the evenings she dragged herself home after a second evening practice to do piles of homework. Piercing my heart was also the pure pleasure she enjoyed knowing how very proud her Dad and everyone was of her this day. I could truly go on page after page describing what I experienced and saw in that smallest increment of time when my camera shutter opened and closed during that perfect shot.
I believe I was the only parent that day that had tears in their eyes at the finish of that race. My sisters and our group of friends sure gave me hell when they noticed this. If only God would have allowed me tell them the reason. It seemed it was just too precious for Him also.
Until I have left this earth, I shall never forget how God took me beyond time and space that wonderful and amazing day and allowed me to enter into my daughter's heart and experience all that I thought I had missed. I can't help but believe this most precious experience was a foretaste of what we will all know one day when we are made complete in Him. I have been assured many times in payer that I need never feel sad that I have missed anything of this world because it is all being kept in store to be enjoyed throughout eternity.
And people wonder why I cry sometimes when I tell them how much I love Him. Who could ever give you a gift like that!
PS. There is a rain storm taking place over my key board right now, but I want to also tell you that Erin went from a walk-on, never having seen a rowing shell or an oar to be captain of the team and "Oars Woman of the Year. " She will also, forever be my "little girl".