My Grandmother was a woman of wisdom, whose heart was strong enough to contain life’s deepest pain and greatest joys. She was more than a Grandmother to me. She was my friend, confidant, and teacher. Years ago, she gave me a few clippings she had saved- bits of old wisdom she had hoped to pass on to me. Among them was a piece called “Letting Go” from the controversial book, The Prophet by Khalil Ghibran. The concept of letting my children go was an impossibility to me, as they were still quite young. So, I placed the quote in an old journal and promptly forgot about it.
My Grandmother left this world a year ago today, leaving a gaping hole in my life. I yearn for her voice, her advice, and words of comfort and love…. especially now… in this moment of new loss.
Although I should qualify as a seasoned parent after 18 years of experience, I found myself unprepared for my daughter to leave home. It was too early and she wasn’t ready. Or perhaps, I wasn’t ready. There was more to teach, more wisdom to offer, and too many words left unspoken. Tears welled as I grappled with doubt and fear. Why now? Did I teach her enough? Will she make it? God, where ARE You in this???
THAT is when I found it- the clipping my Grandmother gave years ago. She had the wisdom to see beyond the immediate needs of a new mother and leave something for the older mother… words of wisdom about “letting go”.
“Letting Go” from The Prophet by Khalil Ghibran
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “speak to us of children.” And he said, “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 backwards, not 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 with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness. For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves the bow that is stable.
After reading the quote, I informed the Lord that I wasn’t ready. I told Him that I didn’t realize the “arrow” would fly so soon. I worried about the aim, the straightness of the shaft, and wind conditions. He gently reminded me that I was only the bow, not the Archer. The bow knows not when the arrow shall fly. It is simply the instrument used by the Great Archer who has set His aim. He sees far beyond my limited vision and the arrow, my beloved “arrow”, remains within His sight and grasp.
My dear Grandmother went before me. She walked this path and learned to let go of her children. Ironically, Grandma and I never did master “letting go” of one another. With unabashed affection, we cried and held hands in the airport after every visit. At one point, we said our final good-bye without realizing it. I wonder if she worried if she had taught me enough.
Her words of wisdom remain etched within my soul…
Love. Grace. Truth. Hope. Family. Faith.
And now I pray my words will remain within my daughter…
Ancient words, passed down through the generations…
Love. Grace. Truth. Hope. Family. Faith…. and Joy!
I must teach her Joy… and Peace… and Perseverance… and…
No. I was not ready for my beloved “arrow” to fly.
But it is time for the bow to trust the aim of the Archer and rest now within His hand.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6