Early this morning, I dropped my daughter off to go on a canoeing excursion with the parish youth group. They were headed to a spot outside of Front Royal, VA to begin their trip. It was sure to be an exciting time, starting with Mass and breakfast, then boarding canoes and navigating the Shenandoah. But, last night I found myself ruminating over the possibilities of such an excursion. I suppose any mother, who is sending a child to do such a thing, and has never been on a canoe trip down a major river herself, might do the same.
The most obvious concern -- Who will she be with?
I was about to send her off, trusting that the people who will be with her will be a positive influence; that she will, in turn, be a positive influence on others. I'm not there; it's not a controlled environment like school, or a club meeting -- it's a canoe trip down the Shenandoah.
Making sure my daughter is surrounded by loving, faithful people is a main consideration in any activity in which we partake. After all, Scripture tells us: "Walk with wise men and you will become wise, but the companion of fools will fare badly." (Prov 13:20)
Of course, she's with our Church youth group, and our Asst. Pastor and two Seminarians were going, so I was able to quickly assuage those fears.
Just as quickly, I moved on to another fear, less rational and significantly more upsetting -- What if the canoe tips and the current is fast? Or, she hits her head on a rock? Panic.Panic.Panic!
Parenting -- it's the harbor for some pretty unpleasant imaginings.
You can't live in fear -- we all know that. Fear is the great paralyzer that keeps you from living. Instead, we must become like Mary and less like Martha:
The Lord said to her in reply,“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Lk 10:41-2)
Trust -- it's a difficult thing to do when you are raising children. Trust that you have given them what they need; trust that God will protect and provide; trust that others will care for their bodies and their souls the same way you would. And then, pray, like Mary at the feet of Jesus, that they will receive fully all that is the will of God.
Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, I regained my peace and was able to sleep.
As the sun rose, I found the courage to also rise and bring my daughter to this canoe trip, independent of mom and dad. All I had to remember was that her heavenly Father is always watching, the Blessed Mother holds her close, and her guardian angel is by her side while she floats, amidst the tones of babbling water, laughter and merriment that comes with an adventure down the Shenandoah. While she floats a little further away from the protective nest of our home.