"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."
I saw this wonderful story on social media recently about a Chinese family. Back in 1980, a new father took his one year old daughter on a trip to a lake in China. Once there, they had their picture taken beside the lake. The father loved the photo, and the next year, he decided to take his daughter to the same lake and take the photo again. They continued to do that every year, except one, for 35 years!
I probably spent an hour looking at the collection of 34 photos. You can find them all here. They went from black and white to color. The lake background changed from a wilderness area to being more of a public park. One of the photos of the girl in her teens showed without question she didn't want her picture taken--I know that phase of female adolescence well. And then the granddaughters arrived--first one, and then two!
And as his daughter grew and blossomed and started her own family, we watch the father fade over time. That's the job. Pour our love into our kids, and show them the right path to travel hopefully. And then we pray that they use what we taught them.
What really came across to me is just how quickly time passes. Sometimes we're unaware of the quick passage of time. Changes in our life take place so slowly. As a father myself, it's difficult for me to realize my eldest daughter is 30! I've got a grandson who is already six. My baby, who it seemed like we were just feeding in a highchair is in junior high. And time marches on.
This father understood that, and he built himself a time machine . . . a tradition that allows him to go back and enjoy each stage of his daughters life over and over again. And his daughter has that available to her as well. For the rest of her life, she'll have that collection that demonstrated just how much she was loved from the moment she arrived.
There's many ways to build time machines like this. Shared memories. Trips to the ballpark and vacations. Time we spent together doing things together. When that young father from that first picture sits down now and looks at that last picture he took, I have a feeling I know exactly what he's thinking . . . where did the time go?
I wonder if this tradition will now continue with the daughter.