They watched while I played underneath my grandmother’s honeysuckle, sliding the stamens out of the bud and licking the sticky nectar onto my tongue.
They smiled as I dropper-fed the tiny bunnies that my daddy found orphaned in our field.
They observed every night as I lay on my back, watching my mother’s mouth form words while her voice rose and fell in cadence with the Psalms.
They were in attendance the night the singular phone rang in our country church, upsetting the service with news of my brother-in-law’s plane crash.
They guarded me when I arrived at an empty house of smoke and blood and led the neighbor to wait with me until my parents returned home from the emergency room.
I never noticed their silent and unseen presence during my childhood, hovering over me and following my every move. I roamed alone where I pleased, both in the garden and through the pasture. But following, ever following, were “these twin guardian angels…always…with me at my back and my beck” (Charles Spurgeon).
“Surely goodness and mercy have followed me” (Psalm 23:6).
They accompanied us as we moved overseas and lived among people whose language we could not understand.
They attended us through the dark days of cornea transplant and through the glimmer of light in the prayers of a loved one.
They followed when our finances ebbed low and our moms struggled through Alzheimer’s. Goodness and mercy have followed us from pathways of still waters to valleys of shadow and death.
Yet, we are never unattended by our protectors. Though their character may resemble sorrow and suffering in the moment, the eye of faith and reflection recognizes their graciousness and compassion. While our enemies stalk us for extermination, these guardians outrun them with blessings. As they have always done, they will continue to do without interruption to their assignment.
This is why I frequently recall the past. One cannot possess her moments until she appreciates her yesterdays. One cannot know who follows unless she turns to look. Therefore, may I take time to recollect even when my soul is in despair (Psalm 42:6). The faces of goodness and mercy shine the brightest when I remember.