Friday, January 13, 2012
THE NEXT GIFT
When in your life you have finished with the task of raising the child you've been-- the child we all begin with being-- when you are at last mature enough to move on, ready to bring a child of your own into the light of your experience, the moment that child is born an ancient door is opened to a place you never knew your heart could hold.
The difference between you then and you now is like the difference between a seed and its tree: neither at all like the other, yet each being the other, in the most secretly invisible and magical of ways. Thus we live and grow through stages with which life itself is deeply familiar, but to which we ourselves, at each advance, are utter strangers, entering new galaxies of being.
Raising a child is its own distraction: you have so few moments in that dense procedure to fully step aside, sit aside, think aside, stop and love as deeply as you can-- until, the moment you can, the child is grown and gone, loving on its own.
Then, if seasons follow, from that child is born the next gift: grandchildren. And on these new beings, now that you are free of the rush of child rearing, you can spend your love as freely as sunshine falls on green leaves. And when those grandchildren are far away, the question becomes what to do with all those warm rays? Thus is more indiscriminate goodness and warmth borne into the world.
Not long ago I came across a snapshot of my daughter when she was ten years old or so, a delightful little person I remember well, and realized I miss that 10-year-old very much; I tried to explain my feeling when she came to visit, now a mother, with my granddaughters, but I could tell she didn't really know what I meant. She hasn't been here yet. She'll understand one day, decades from now, when as a grandmother she's going through some old photos, and the past tells her what it told me, what it tells us all, if we stop to listen: open your arms to this moment and its children.