As things get ready to start here at ETSU with the upcoming fall semester I am reminded that many parents are preparing themselves to let a child leave home. I remember that when I was chaplain at Knoxville Catholic High School I would often tell the seniors to be patient with their parents because the time around graduation and whatever comes next is also a time of adjustment for them. Things are different. The child that one has cared for, loved and raised is getting ready to leave home and this calls for a letting go on the part of every parent.
I do believe that Christian marriage and parenting is a holy vocation. Each vocation has its unique encounter with the cross and I think that the letting go that a parent has to go through is such an encounter. But, we believe and hold that through the cross we discover new life.
Letting go in faith can be a sacred moment.
The other night through a PBS special I “discovered” the singer Justin Hines. Obviously he has been around for a while but it was the first time that I heard his music. I find his voice and his songs to be very appealling and good.
His song, “Wish You Well” is, I believe, a wonderful parent’s prayer for a child leaving home. Here are the lyrics:
Darling I can’t take your thirst away but I can show you to the sea
While you’re walking on your path unknown
I said, “Will you think of me?”
Well time will tell and I wish you well
Too many times I’ve seen those ghosts before
I’ve watched them dance around your bed
I would give you all of my sleep filled nights just to see you get some rest
It’s not my place to try to fill that space but I can wish you well
I wish you well
In times like this I tend to ponder of things we’ll miss
We can always reminisce
When you come back from the great beyond with moonlight in your hair
I will meet you where that dark road ends
And it won’t be long until we’re there
Once again we’ll talk about way back when
But until then I wish you well
I wish you well
There are, I believe, some real gems to reflect on in this song. Here are a few that strike me.
Darling I can’t take your thirst away but I can show you to the sea. It is a powerful and beautiful thing when a parent recognizes the desire in the heart of his or her child and then does not try to stand in the way, nor find the answer for the child nor seek to control but rather points out, helps and encourages the child to find his or her own way. I can show you to the sea.
I would give you all of my sleep filled nights just to see you get some rest. A parent, even when letting go, remains a parent. A parent knows that a child will face struggle and even experience pain and hurt in life but just as a parent cannot answer the unique desire in the heart of his or her child; a parent cannot carry the child’s own cross. But a parent always wishes he or she could.
It’s not my place to try to fill that space but I can wish you well. This is an expression of humble and truthful awareness. We can take another to the sea, we can wish we could carry another’s cross but, in truth, we realize that only God and the other can do that. It’s not my place to try to fill that space … but I can wish you well. Faith brings a different dynamic to letting go. In faith, we do not send another off, abandoned and alone, on his or her own. In faith, when we let go, we commend another into God’s care and through this there is a deep awareness and freedom that can be gained. In faith-filled letting go we are reminded very particularly of who we indeed are and also what we can and what we cannot do. We are not God; parents also are limited creatures and fellow pilgrims with their children on the way.
In faith-filled letting go the child will always remain a son or daughter but through the embracing of this particular cross the parent may very well gain, in the due course of time, another pilgrim friend to walk the way of life with.
Check out the video of Wish You Well by Justin Hines by clicking the link below.
Parents, you are in my prayers.