“With Each Death Done I am Onward”
This line comes from a poem I read many years ago – I cannot find its author. But it’s the thought that counts..for me today, anyway. I am sorting out the Christmas stuff in the basement, left in disarray in the midst of other more urgent jobs, after my daughters put on a Christmas in July party with friends and family before departing for their new lives over 2000 miles west of here. Last Christmas they were in New Zealand, next Christmas we will be with them in their new home.
So where’s the dying? They are moving ahead, eagerly following the Lord in Christian community, full of life and vigour and purpose. I couldn’t wish for more. I practically pushed them out of the nest, and do my supporting from a distance, in any way that is possible. I am quite relieved in many ways to have more time and space to “do my thing”, “get on with my life”, and all the other clichéd ways of talking about a new chapter of my life forced upon me.
But still I find myself grieving, recognizing the outlines of the empty nest, letting go of the life I have known with them for over 20 years. As I sort through the treasures they have still stored here, I remember the dreams they represented. When I hear them say they will probably sell more of them when they are back sometime, throw more stuff out, my heart twinges, again and again. Of course I am glad they are not attached to “things”. Of course I am delighted that they want to “travel light”. But still it hurts, not just because some of the treasures were bought by me to encourage their dreams, but because they are adults now, no longer needing to keep the paraphernalia of childhood. But secretly I plan to buy some of them myself, save them for their own children, stuff like that. Most of all I miss my daughters – their bright spirits, their lively presence, all that they are and hope to be. And I grieve for the ways I failed them at times, crowded out their dreams and needs when I was struggling with my own stuff.
Meanwhile I have died again inside, died again to possessing my children, to standing in their way as they move on. I didn’t think it would be so hard. But it is. With each phone call and email, visit on Skype or anticipated future visit, I face these issues. I am always surprised to find out things I say that show I am holding on. I take the knife again, face the cross. What else is there to do?
Ah, but this is the great thing in being a Christian. The resurrection waits on the other side. There will be so much to rejoice about as they and I move on: so much growth, and new ways of sharing and giving. “If you love something, let it go…..” You know how the clichés go….and..they are really true.
But..the pain is real. The cross is real. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t mean anything. And I await the resurrection, in this bittersweet time. As we walked yesterday on an autumn trail, I saw those glorious colours….and a peace as deep as my pain flooded my being. God’s presence, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, were in that pain and in that peace. And I knew as I celebrated the symphony of colour that God was blessing the new vibrant growth in my being, blessing me for letting go, and heralding the coming winter, from which the buried hopes and dreams will bring forth new shoots of life in the spring.
Thank you, Lord, again and again, for making all things new.