Bouncing around at the base of the hill, across the river that lay frozen between the fireworks techs and us spectators on the dock, was a light. A flashlight. A very bright flashlight. I saw the stream of light widen and play upon the hillside. Then the beam narrowed into a tightly focused square-shaped beam. I saw the beam swing in my direction, then away again, then continue its cavorting as I watched.
The beam of light again shone in my direction, then blinked on and off a few times. Then the strobe feature activated. It was an unmistakable signal from my flashlight fanatic son who was not about to be upstaged by any fireworks extravaganza. That night, in plain view of the entire town, I was treated to a private light show. Just for me.
Fast forward to last night. To a mother shivering outside under the October sky, eyes peering into the blackness, straining to see into the deep far away where she knows her son lives. She tries desperately to see beyond the stars to where he is. She gazes across the river of time and space and knows she cannot cross and neither can her son. Not yet.
She whispers his name as if he were near, then says it louder. She shouts his name. And at that precise moment, right when his name bursts from her heart, a shooting star streaks across the sky.
Just for her.
Soon we’ll reach the shining river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.