Yesterday, I traveled alone to visit my grandmother on her “Yankee Doodle” birthday. My wife stayed home to care for our recovering daughter.
It was a difficult drive, as I did not want to leave them. However, my 87-year old grandmother, who lived an hour away, was hosting her annual 4th of July/Birthday party.
Around 3pm, we took my daughter’s temperature and the fever had subsided. With my wife’s urging, I set east to spend an hour celebrating my grandmother.
As I was driving, I was not interested in listening to music. Rather, I downloaded a couple of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s podcasts from his radio show, taped a few years before his unexpected death.
There were many nuggets of wisdom: from how to not take on the blame of others, considering the presence of the spiritual life, attracting what you desire by positive thinking, and how war is never resolved by violence.
While all of these ideas kept my mind rolling throughout the night, I was most interested in a quote from the writer/poet Kahlil Gibran.
The context of the podcast episode and quote was a mother, struggling with her teenage daughters.
Dyer then responded, “as the poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, your child comes through you, not for you.”
This morning, I investigated, and quickly found the full poem from Gibran, titled “On Children.”
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.
I need to print this, and tape it somewhere to remind me of my true role in this relationship called fatherhood.
And it isn’t meant to be a reminder when my daughter and I disagree down the road.
It is a mandate for today. It is a nudge, a guide, a path.
All I can do is be me, model a behavior that is rooted in prayer and love. As was spoken of the early Christians, may my daughter say about her parents, see how they love one another.
How do I show love? Not just to my little holy family, but to the world. Especially, those on the margins?
It will be my soul living its authentic self that best teaches my daughter.
I, for one, cannot wait to be a part of her story, and to see her soul shine.
For those who are parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, how do you do this?
What are examples from your life where you were the bow for your “child’s” arrow?