Our children

They have their own thoughts, they have their own thoughts

Hardly an original thought, but I am starting to understand how much “our” (=all) children need nature.  Even the grownup children.  In my mind, this thought, which is so simple, connects to this song.

Lyrics by Khalil Gibran, Music by Ysaye M. Barnwell

Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you and though they are with you
They belong not to you
You can give them your love but not your thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you
Strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you

It is impossible to overstate how bittersweet it is to watch a child grow up.  The process is so slow that it becomes invisible, and then one day, the infant is walking, the toddler is speaking, the child is telling stories.  She runs and stumbles and gets up and isn’t scared and she climbs to the top of the blue jungle gym.  When she stands there, realizing where she is, she says, “Mama, help me,” and while I calmly coach her to find a place to put her feet, I am not breathing, I am “please don’t fall!”ing, and I am trying to know with my own body that she is balanced and strong and wise and that even if she falls, this is the work she needs to do on this day, at this moment.  It is exactly right.

(I can house her body but not her soul…For her soul dwells in a place of tomorrow which I cannot visit not even in my dreams, and this fact is what is so beautiful and this fact is what breaks my entire heart.)

She finds her feet, she climbs down, she smiles with exhilaration and now she has done her work of this day and I have not done it for her, I have resisted even trying, and this means that she knows she can do it herself.  She can do it herself.

And you know what?  I do not want the children to be just like us.  Please no!  I want them to find a better way to live here on this earth.  Meanwhile, let’s help them learn by stepping aside and letting them put their bare feet on the earth, letting them feel the mud and water and prickly grass, and letting them pay attention and do all those beauteous things that surround us every day, those things we forget have such significance in the constant rush of rush rush rush.

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6 responses to “Our children

  1. So beautiful – makes me want to hug my all-grown-up children, and neither one is close enough (physically) to reach :-/

  2. Cyndi, a good reminder to me how fast it all goes. Not wanting to hold her back, yet wanting to sort of juice this moment… and all the ones that follow. Thankfully, there are all kinds of ways to hug them from afar. :)

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  5. I love this post. It is so right, and so true. Thank you, Rebecca.

  6. Thanks, Sam! I’m glad you posted today because it’s an excuse to listen to this song again. :)

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