Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Sunrise, sunset..."

"Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze…"

June is the month of weddings and graduations…in our family alone we will have graduated a daughter from college and a son from high school within the week.  We will have written songs for two weddings and sent out dozens of congratulations cards filled with encouragement and hope.

If there is a traveling song through the month of June, I think…for me…it might be Tevya and Golda's wedding song for Tzeital and Motel from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof."  It begins to gather force in my heart as hand-lettered envelopes appear like magic in our mailbox each spring.  I find myself humming it unconsciously while the names of high school auditoriums, college greens, chapels, temples, and reception halls beckon from creamy engraved cardstock.  I get teary as the names of children I have held as babies…or cheered on from the sidelines…reach out from sheets of embossed and watermarked Crane's stationary to tug at my heartstrings.  By Memorial Day I am in full voice… 

"…Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?…"

This morning I started thinking about a Friday in late April, 2001.  The sixth grade had been dismissed early for a teacher in-service.  Since it was so close to our daughter's birthday, we chose to host her party that afternoon.  All of the sixth grade girls piled into our minivans and we headed off to a great pottery painting studio where we all sat around…mothers and daughters…delicately applying glaze to mugs, plates, jewelry boxes-the-size-of-a-pincushion and smiling kitties with no other purpose than to sit on a bedroom shelf, reminding you that you had a great afternoon with your friends.

I can see each of those girls today…as they were that day in April…many in braces, some just beginning to notice boys…others already well aware of who they wanted to stand next to at sixth grade graduation.  I remember that we moms were sitting on the edge of our proverbial seats that afternoon. I think that most of us knew that a chapter in our lives was coming to a close and a new one--one of middle school, boys, driving, and their eventual graduation from high school--was looming.  Before we knew it, we would be aching for the opportunity to drive our daughters to a dance class or volleyball game rather than have them ask for the keys.

"I don't remember growing older
When did they?"

I saw a photo of one of those sweet girls on Facebook last night.  For the past six years I have thought of her as the sparkly little girl who passed me the periwinkle glaze as we painted our mugs at The Painted Zebra that afternoon.  She is now a talented young woman, heading off to university and ready to take on New York, Hollywood, Wall Street…and she can do it.   Another girl, even in the throes of middle school angst, never failed to greet me with genuine joy and a warm embrace ...I will miss her smile, but can't wait to hear how her kindness "reaches across continents and oceans to the globes remotest bounds" blessing others with that amazing heart of full of benovolence.

"...When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he get to be so tall?"

Our son goes out to breakfast with friends these days.  He will soon move to the West Coast where he will begin his life of college, work, apartments, new friends, and new landscapes.  He is tall and capable…we are proud of his willingness to engage with the world around him in an environmentally ethical way.  He is strong and will learn his lessons with grace…he has already proven he has the maturity and compassion necessary to become a global citizen.

"Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?"

In the display windows outside of his high school's bookstore there are posters with photographs of each senior as a baby or toddler.  Parents, teachers, and friends puzzle over which baby photo goes with which of the senior portraits also displayed.  For some it is easy…this is a very small school community.  Many of the families have been in classrooms for Back-to-School nights together since an infant co-op program.  These parents aren't guessing which baby photo goes with which senior portrait…they are remembering what these young men and women looked like as babies and toddlers…they were there!  For this group it really did take a village…and a very closeknit one at that…to raise each child.

"...Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze..."

These seniors have blossomed into young men and women of substance and impact.  Their dreams and hopes will seed the world with promise.  I feel honored to have been a witness to their self-discovery.

"Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears..."

The seasons have flown all too swiftly.  Year after year, fall and spring became one…the love these children had for one another has over and again dissolved the bitter chill of coldness, apathy, gossip, darkness or discouragement.  Friendships forged since preschool have expanded to include new students and have morphed into new "families" of interest. The girl whose passion for horses in lower school may have left her feeling isolated from the "soccer crowd" found new friends while running track in high school.  The object of one boy's affection in middle school became his lab partner in physics five years later…a much better fit.  As their parents we watched, listened and cried with them.  And if hindsight was ever 20/20, it's in looking back at your child's high school journey.

"...What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?"

This one is easy for me, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God…within your own heart…and all things shall be added unto you."  Always put God, Love before fear in making good decisions.  Put God, Mind--the expression of intelligence, intuition, discernment--before giving in to discouragement or apathy…or giving up on yourself.  Put God, Soul--your love for beauty, harmony, form--before consenting to the ordinary, the discordant, or the chaotic.  Claim peace as the presence of God in your life rather than the temporary absence of war.  Demand that purity is a self-assertive divine power in your life rather than seeing it as a fragile human condition subject to good or bad personal choices.  Trust that desire really is prayer and that prayer is God's gracious means (not our own) for communicating His will in our lives…to our hearts.  As I said, "See ye first the kingdom of God…within you." 

  "Now they must learn from one another
Day by day..."

And they will…they will learn the way we have learned…from one another.  For me, the most important lessons in life are all learned in relationships.  Mary Baker Eddy says, "What we most need is the fervent desire for growth in grace – expressed in patience, meekness, love and good deeds."  I can't imagine learning any one of those things in isolation.  I need "you" to discover the best in myself…the me that is patient, loving, meek, and lives to do "good deeds."  I truly believe this is why the Lord's Prayer is all in the language of relationships…"Our Father, Give us this day, Lead us not into temptation. "

"Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze..."

Saturday will be laden with happiness and tears.  We will be happy for their successes, accomplishments and because they have arrived at this milestone so full of joy, grace, and hope.  We will shed tears…we will miss them.  They have blossomed even as we gazed.  There is a wide world waiting for the seeds of hope, compassion, courage and grace they are ready to broadcast far and wide.

And we will be watching…on tiptoes…for those seeds to bear fruit and feed a waiting world. 

Congratulations Class of 2007…watching you grow has been a privilege and a are loved...


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