Sunday, August 12, 2007

Letting Go

I've just spent an exhausting, heart-rending week delivering my youngest to college in Florida. It's an incredible place--a small liberal arts college right on the beach, complete with great vegetarian food and a wonderfully supportive faculty and staff. She's already already signed up for sailing lessons and the search and rescue team. I know she'll have a great experience there and that does help. A little.

Yet this morning I found myself needing to reach for The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and rereading this passage:

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.

7 comments:

Kate S said...

Thus spoke a man who never had children of his own. ;)

cs harris said...

Ah, yes!

Charles Gramlich said...

Beautiful words. I hope they are a comfort. I particularly like the point about how you can't give them your thoughts because they have their own. I'm thinking about a call I made to my mom last night. I'm 48 and she'd still like me to have only her thoughts.

liz fenwick said...

That made me quite tearful. Mine are still young - can't say small as two tower over me with glea but I will be leaving two behind here in England as we head to Dubai in September. Thanks for the insight :-)

Sphinx Ink said...

The writings of Gibran were popular in my college years. I bought a copy, but never read it...just as well, since I doubt his philosophy would have truly reached me at the time. Now that I'm (much) older and more mature--and have been through life's wringer--what he says makes a lot of sense as well as being poetically expressed. Every parent should keep in mind the part about "You may give them your love but not your thoughts,/For they have their own thoughts." It can be very hard for us to remember this when dealing with our kids. (And, as Charles pointed out, haven't we all wished our own parents would have taken this advice???)

Lana said...

Kahlil Gibran rocks. I have a few of his writings & wish more people today were like him.
Enjoy the empty nest. ;)

Steve Malley said...

Mister Gabran's words jiggled a memory fragment loose in this childless Peter Pan's noggin. I chased it down, only to discover the fragment wasn't what I'd thought. But I had the book open anyway, and lost a happy hour reading poetry. Thank you for that.

Here's a fragment from William Carlos Williams:

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, unfamilliar wind--

But now the stark dignity of
entrance- Still, the profound change
has come up on them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken.

That sorta struck me in a 'kids are grown' sort of way...