My grandson, Aubrey, and his wife, Becky, both of whom are in the Airforce currently stationed in Hawaii, are visiting this week. I picked them up at the airport in the early morning and after breakfast dropped them off at the car rental office so they could pick up their wheels of “independence.” I say independence because they have a long list of places to go and things to do, so I will probably only see them a few times during the visit. One place we are most likely to visit together is the Washington Park Zoological Gardens. (One has to check in to see how all the “relatives” are doing, you know!)
In between my attention to emails and other computer activities I began to think about children. As I did, I immediately focused my mind on one of my favorite photos of my son and daughter when David was five and Jennifer was two. It is this same photo that most often comes to my mind when I think of them. There is something so innocent, carefree and appealing to our children at those early ages. All their dreams are just beginning to take shape and the most important thing they have to do is have fun with their imaginings.
I cannot speak for all parents, of course, but I think many of us always hold on to a favorite image of our children, one in which they always are children. There is no intent to not recognize that they have grown up and are now living their own lives, probably with their own children and the memories that are just beginning to be stored away for later recollection. Rather, it is more the realization of how life unfolds from childhood, to adult, to parent, grandparent and maybe to doting patriarch or matriarch of a proud family. As I ponder this wonderful family pattern I am reminded of a favorite passage by Kahlil Gibran:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
It takes great effort sometimes to really let our children go, to let them grow and become who they are destined to be, with their own set of values and priorities. Hopefully, some of the positive efforts we make as parents will assist them in the process of building the foundation for their lives. Remember, They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. As such, they have their own dreams from which they will build unique lives that bring blessings to all of us that would not exist without them.