Prayer for the Journey

I often close my live College Parent 101 presentations with a few excerpts from a prayer written by Father Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador. He was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived.

To me, the prayer is a beautiful tribute at the heart of what it means to set a daughter or son off on a new journey, particularly one as significant and full of hope, excitement, concern, and even fear, as the college journey.  I’m hopeful that you find encouragement and support in his gracious words.

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

 

If you would like to see the prayer in its entirety, you need only Google: Prayer Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Learning the Bicycle

In the spirit of looking from every angle as this idea of Letting Go, I offer another poem for us to consider; this one by Wyatt Prunty, called Learning the Bicycle.  I have, since the inception of CP101, been posing varying ideas for parents to consider regarding what Letting Go truly asks of us.

For veteran readers, we know that this idea of Letting Go is more about OUR work of letting go of OUR agendas for them – our “shoulds” – that are at the core of what hold our daughter & sons in a place of reliance on us and the ways that this inhibits their ability to become healthy and self-reliant.  These “shoulds” also hold us as parents back; perpetually connected to the roles we have occupied in our children’s early years, but must be relinquished so that we too might be free to be our best and fullest selves.

So I offer Prunty’s poem here as an image of what this process feels like; what the bicycle process can offer us as a teacher to do our best work as parents, and to offer our children into the teaching of their own lives.

Learning the Bicycle
by Wyatt Prunty

The older children pedal past
Stable as little gyros, spinning hard
To supper, bath, and bed, until at last
We also quit, silent and tired
Beside the darkening yard where trees
Now shadow up instead of down.
Their predictable lengths can only tease
Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone
Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall.
Tomorrow, though I will run behind,
Arms out to catch her, she’ll tilt then balance wide
Of my reach, till distance makes her small,
Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know
That to teach her I had to follow
And when she learned I had to let her go.

Letting Go is Seeing Farther…

When I began this blog several years ago, I wondered if I might run out of ways to keep talking about this topic.  It seemed that I, or you the readers, would at some point tire of the conversation or say, “Enough, I get it already…”  Well, neither of those have materialized.  The practice of breathing in and breathing out each rhythmic cycle is itself a reminder that we’re each taking in what we need and letting go of what we don’t; mostly without giving it a lot of thought, though we’re perpetually in the act of “letting go” in order to stay alive.

I know that in similar ways, though more complex, we are asked to consider doing the same in relationships as well, and often no more direct is this on-going fulcrum that we call parenting.  As I write this I am processing the feelings of being in dialogue with my young adult daughter about an international work assignment she is pursuing.  Feelings of gratitude and pride for her work ethic which has paved the way for this assignment sit alongside feelings of sadness for the time away that will inhibit us having regular face-to-face interactions.

This felt so resonant in a recent offering on the Continue reading “Letting Go is Seeing Farther…”

A New Beginning

We find ourselves again at the beginning of yet another year; fresh with the memory of those things left unchecked only a handful of days ago.  There has been for generations, a practice of starting over; of pressing on, when the calendar adds another number to the growing stack of our days.

I have ceased making resolutions for some years now, as I realize that much of the energy around those that I did make was the weight of what I had left unfinished; in a sense I was dragging that weight into the new year hoping to make an old thing different. One of the significant aspects of letting go of “resolution-making” was the recognition that I, Continue reading “A New Beginning”

Courage to be Vulnerable

As any regular reader of CP101 will tell you, I’m typically finding any tact I can find to lean us toward new ways to wonder, look at, or consider the work we each still need to do around “showing up well” in our closest and most intimate relationships.

I have on a couple of occasions mentioned the work of Brene Brown who has spoken and written extensively on the topic of vulnerability and shame (the primary focus of her research).  Her TED talks have topped the charts – one at over 18 million views – more than just hinting at her very accessible conversations on the topic, both as a researcher and as a wife, mother and human.  http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.

I also subscribe to the interview series: On Being. A fascinating collection of interviews exploring the spiritual and human search.  I listened recently as host Krista Tippett interviewed Brown on the topic of Vulnerability as an essential component of Courage; both of them modeling the difficulty and desire to explore the myths and deep truths of what it looks like to, as Brown seeks to expand, live wholeheartedly.

There is a specific part of this related to parenting that I find to be completely resonant with what I have speaking to for a long time.  So, I’d like to encourage you to take the time, with your parenting partner and/or with you daughter/son, to sit down and listen to the truths explored here.

Peace all around, Dane

http://www.onbeing.org/program/brene-brown-on-vulnerability/4928/audio?embed=1&utm_source=On+Being+Newsletter&utm_campaign=18478543c5-20150131_Brene_Brown_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1c66543c2f-18478543c5-69848605

 

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Longing to Leave

The following is an excerpt from Irish writer/poet John O’Donohue from his book, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong (italics added).

I hear in John’s words the very heart of the message of what it means to parent well and to be an attentive human with strong intention. May his words serve us well…

Peace, Dane

“The loneliness and creativity of being a parent is the recognition that family is inevitably temporary. Good parenting is unselfish and, to encourage independence in a child that has received unconditional love, acts to reinforce the sense and essence of belonging.  Nothing, not even departure, can sever that intrinsic sense of belonging.  Children are created to grow and leave the nest.  Family provides the original and essential belonging in the world.  It is the cradle where identity unfolds and firms.  Such belonging outgrows itself. Home becomes too small and too safe.  The young adult is called to new longing to leave home and undertake new discovery.  The difficulty for parents is Continue reading “Longing to Leave”

Holding on to our hope

As we lean ever further into this idea of “letting go” of our agendas for our daughters and sons, there is a point at which we can find the core of our hope.  I don’t believe we can parent without having some basic hopes for our children: hope that she will be healthy, hope that he will be successful, hope that she will live a meaningful and productive life, and our list of hopes can go on and on.

The poem below presents the same question in a different form; an opportunity to see and experience our daughters and sons differently.  When we encounter the invitation to do the work of letting go of OUR agendas – and it is OUR work – we may find that Continue reading “Holding on to our hope”

The Power of Vulnerability

I sat for a time this Thanksgiving weekend looking at the year that has passed and the little left that remains.  I often find myself doing this around Turkey day because of the concentration of gratitude; gratitude for what my life has become and what it continues to hold open for me.

One of those pieces happened recently.  My wife and I make a point around mid-fall to host the students from my First-Year Seminar course at our house.  The dessert fare always consists of some amazing made-from-scratch brownies and Mexican hot chocolate.  I recognize that this can be a pretty cool thing for new college students – to show up at their professor’s house, meet his wife and dog, and see where he spends his off-campus time.  I know I never had the opportunity until grad school, and then only once.

Our class spends a lot of vulnerable time together, as you might suspect in a course called: The Art of Continue reading “The Power of Vulnerability”

The Spaces in Between

Just as life is made up of day and night, relationships with those we care deeply for, are made up of times of being in touch and spaces in-between.  Being human, we sometimes fill these spaces with worry, or we imagine the silence is some form of punishment, or we internalize the time we are not in touch with someone we love or care about as some change of heart.

Our minds work very hard to make something out of Continue reading “The Spaces in Between”

Peace for the Journey, Fall

As we move into the beauty of fall, witnessing the world change around us, I can’t help but wonder about the questions we have about how our daughters and sons are changing while away at college.  What is shaping them?  What new ideas or experiences is she encountering that will make her a different than the person I knew?  What challenges is he facing that cause him to Continue reading “Peace for the Journey, Fall”