Those of you who’ve read this weblog for awhile have probably identified that a key current issue in my life is having my youngest son go off to college next month. Letting go of another son--particularly when it will mean no kids at home--is a significant transition. This weekend, part of the family festivities included the wedding of the daughter of my husband’s cousin. During the ceremony and while a soloist sang, the parents of the bride and groom went forward and prayed over the new young couple. Yes, technically, my eyes should have closed during this prayer time or at least been on the soloist but I couldn’t help but keep looking at the hand of the bride’s father on her shoulder as his lips were moving and his head was bowed. The hand on the shoulder in blessing, no longer across the shoulder in possession. It was as poignant a picture of letting go as I can imagine. I’ll remember it a long time.
Along the lines of letting go, here’s a poem by Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country. Written about his son, it was published in 1954 in an out-of-print volume titled Meditation For a Young Boy Confirmed. I found it printed in Creative Brooding: Readings to Provoke Thought and Trigger Action by Robert Raines. There’s a lot to learn from this poem. I’ll be its student for years to come.
I Hold the Bandages and Ointments Ready
I see my son is wearing long trousers, I tremble at this;
I see he goes forward confidently, he does not know so fully his own gentleness.
Go forward, eager and reverent child, see here I begin to take my hands away from you,
I shall see you walk careless on the edges of the precipice, but if you wish you shall hear no word come out of me;
My whole soul will be sick with apprehension, but I shall not disobey you.
Life sees you coming, she sees you come with assurance towards her,
She lies in wait for you, she cannot but hurt you;
Go forward, go forward, I hold the bandages and ointments ready.
And if you would go elsewhere and lie alone with your wounds, why I shall not intrude upon you,
If you would seek the help of some other person, I shall not come forcing myself upon you.
If you should fall into sin, innocent one, that is the way of this pilgrimage;
Struggle against it, not for one fraction of a moment concede its dominion.
It will occasion you grief and sorrow, it will torment you,
But hate not God, nor turn from Him in shame or self-reproach;
He has seen many such, His compassion is as great as His Creation.
Be tempted and fall and return, return and be tempted and fall
A thousand times and a thousand, even to a thousand thousand.
For out of this tribulation there comes a peace, deep in the soul, and surer than any dream...