We just returned home from what I am calling our swan song family vacation. Eight of us piled into a Toyota Sienna and went on a whirlwind vacation to Canada, driving over 2300 miles in 10 days. It was nerve-wracking, exciting, and most of all fun. And, for my boy, probably the last family 10 day excursion he will be on with us. So, I had to quietly treasure every last moment of that trip -- even the irritation he felt being jammed in a car with his little sisters who incessantly sang the songs from "The Lorax" over and over and over again. To a mother, it was bliss -- to the boy, it was torture, and possibly one of those most precious memories that is tossed out at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
He graduates from college in May. He will get a job, God willing, and will move out on his own. And, I realize that the years of having him here to nurture, to talk to, to reprimand, to love in person on a daily basis are coming to a close very shortly.
I have been trying to wrap my head around it for the last 3 years, but this is the year to wrap my heart around it -- (a sentence I knew would bring tears to my eyes as I wrote it).
God prepares you for these moments. He give you the hints that its time to start untying the knot that tethers: recognition of capability and maturity, feelings of pride, feelings of tension as independence grows, etc. He builds the road to this moment and makes it as smooth as possible; He doesn't do it without the necessary character building that comes from a few tugs at the heart strings. I firmly believe that these tugs are also a reminder to our feeble human nature of how much we are supposed to love Him, too.
God sent His only Son out into the world for the salvation of all men. He did so knowing the fate that would befall Him. I send out my son, not knowing the future, not being able to see. And, I thank God for the grace not to know. That would be a terrible cross to bear.
But, as I do ready myself for these last few months of still having him under my roof preparing him for the unknown, I will remember how grateful I am to God for giving me this boy to raise, how much I love him, how proud he makes me, how excited I am for his future. I will list all of the positives that I see in him, and all of the wonders that lay ahead in his future. I will pray that he know just enough suffering to make him strong and keep him holy. I will ask the Lord to bless him with wisdom to pursue the vocation that is meant for him. I will ask God to send his angels and his patron saint to guard and protect him. (These things I have done for years and will continue to do more fervently now.)
And, I will send him off this coming summer with the words of Sirach 2:
- My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials.
- Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.
- Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great.
- Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient;
- For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.
- Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.
- You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy, turn not away lest you fall.
- You who fear the LORD, trust him, and your reward will not be lost.
- You who fear the LORD, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.
- Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken? has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
- Compassionate and merciful is the LORD; he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble.
- 2 Woe to craven hearts and drooping hands, to the sinner who treads a double path!
- Woe to the faint of heart who trust not, who therefore will have no shelter!
- Woe to you who have lost hope! what will you do at the visitation of the LORD?
- Those who fear the LORD disobey not his words; those who love him keep his ways.
- Those who fear the LORD seek to please him, those who love him are filled with his law.
- Those who fear the LORD prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him.
- Let us fall into the hands of the LORD and not into the hands of men, For equal to his majesty is the mercy that he shows.