I am a man of a “certain” age. I think that phrase comes ringing home when you realize at some point that no age is really certain. I just passed through the Valley of the Shadow of Death unscathed and am kind of pinching myself. It makes you reflective. One thing is, the possibility of an early meeting with your Maker gives you that scan of your life. How much was worthwhile, and what will last. From all the time you were on earth, what investments paid dividends? How were you selfish? All valid questions that maybe should not require a life and death event to make you go over them.
And so it is I have my own collection of screen savers. This is mine for today. It brings me back to one of the worthy moments small and fleeting though it was. They say that your kids will come up in the world based on how much time you spend with them. It goes further than coaching. I had the good luck of what I will call “daddy daughter dates” for about a decade. What this meant was that my wife would work three twelve hour nursing shifts on the weekend and I would take over the kids meanwhile. Some of this was selfishly used working in my shop while the kids watched their TV shows and cartoons. But there were some outings figured in and a bit of home craft that I have to say I remember most fondly. My wife actually got jealous at some point of the Daddy/daughter dates but I miss them myself.
This was a sock monkey day. One of those times where you find some fun craft to dive into that everyone can do. All this one required was needle and thread which everyone has at home, and a pile of those great “Canadian” socks that people know about for winter. The best news is there is not a great degree of skill required in making sock monkeys. Hence the whole family had a go at it. The sock monkeys were a hit, and I believe that sock monkey may even had displaced “Eggburt” as top teddy for one of my kids which speaks volumes.
I would say in retrospect I hope I have been a good ENOUGH father if there is such a thing. I would also say that I had the most fun in my life probably with my kids. They can be great company and I am further rewarded that they have grown up to be lovely human beings all on their own. This is not giving props to myself or even my wife. A wise man recognizes early on that “whats’ bred in the bone” only goes so far. What outs in the flesh is stuff beyond your control. Temperament, some DNA perhaps, birth order, and just a nod to individuality. My kids are all different. They gave their own strengths and they have their own likes and dislikes. How much these could have been coralled by parenting is a good question. They seem to have exhibited their strongest traits early on and only bolstered them as they grew.
Perhaps it is time to step back from any claims of wisdom and quote Khalil Gibran.
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.
Post surgery, I had some resounding images bouncing around in my mind in that nether world of pain medication and endless cycles of sleep and wake punctuated by figures coming and bending over you to check various things. Bright lights over your head. Not much going on in your brain. But this was what was going on in mine. “Your life is hidden with Christ in God” kept reverberating over and over again. On some unconscious level I asked the question in my mind… “But what will that really be?”
The answer of course is that I have the good luck that I will get to find out. I may throw in a few injunctions like from the prophet Micah “Do good, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”. It may be that family life is enough, maybe even a calling. If so I hope I answer the calling adequately if is the only task I am given to do properly. The other thing of course, is that none of life goes without that foundational call to gratitude. So maybe now is the time to acknowledge that I am truly blessed.