It was a day to celebrate America!
Flags fluttered in the breeze. Families gathered around the picnic table. Fireworks would soon light the night sky.
This was a slice of Americana; a picture that could have been one of Norman Rockwell’s nostalgic scenes.
Little girls in patriotic summer sundresses skipped barefoot through the grass, a playful puppy at their heels.
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A baby dozed on a soft blanket. Long-time friends sat and chatted in the shade of a huge old tree.
One neighbor remembered how her little ones had once climbed that mulberry tree — a little smaller back then — and now, a new young boy found adventure in its limbs.
I reminisced about the year it’d been a cold Fourth of July. Another friend recalled how we’d tried to picnic in the rain, our kids begging for hot chocolate.
Our memories mingled with laughter.
Then, as the hamburgers seared on the barbecue and the potato salad made its way to the red, white and blue table, the host approached me.
“Lucy,” he asked, “before we eat would you please lead the prayer?”
I could feel my heart skip a beat. Praying out loud is something that always makes me feel a bit self-conscious. And because we were outside, I knew I’d have to shout to make myself heard.
“Well,” I replied tentatively, knowing I’d need support, “how about if we all join hands.”
Young moms and dads, grandparents and childhood friends linked fingers as we all bowed our heads. Our hearts joined in unison as we did more than bless the food.
I thanked God for friends and family. And, of course, I remembered our freedom. I asked that we not take it for granted, that we’d cherish it always.
“And Father,” I prayed as my throat tightened, “please continue to bless this great country in the years ahead.”
A loud group “Amen” followed, then came a dash for the food-laden table.
But one young mom lingered behind. Jennifer told me how much the prayer touched her, the reminder that freedom is a God-given gift.
At that moment, I knew this same Americana scene would be repeated again and again. Hands and hearts would join around the table in thankfulness, remembering — and I pray that we never forget — how blessed this great country has been.