I’m aware (more acutely in these first days of a new semester) that the transitions of our children, always usher in transitions for us as parents. They turn the page into a new chapter and a page turns in our book automatically so that we’re ushered into something new and different.
“New and different” is good... mostly... most of the time... kind of... but not completely, is it? I mean, first of all it means we’re having to let go of something and, in the case of our children, it’s always a letting go that comes with some grief and grief probably prompted by small things that we miss. The sound of their car pulling in the driveway... their chair occupied at dinner... their friends that became your friends... just daily graces that are gone.
Letting go is significant spiritual work, isn’t it! Surrender is such a Christ-like gesture and hard but the promise is that surrender takes us into new life. Which really is a good thing but it involves some deeper work on our part. For instance, where we are (hopefully) less preoccupied with everything going on with them and, rather than worrying, are working to be centered daily in God’s peace. That’s good spiritual work. It’s also good and deep spiritual work, now that you are in a new chapter, to see your own purpose anew... perhaps there’s a new calling. And as we say “yes” again to God’s work in our lives, it gives our adult children the freedom to do the same. They are not in this world to take care of us and setting them free in turn sets us free. There is a great deal of fulfilling work for us to do in this chapter prompted by absence.
Having noted (and lamented a bit) this “letting go” transition, it’s also our deep intuition, the wisdom of our tradition, and the consensus of some good studies, that your presence is still so very important. It’s true in general as they navigate all that college involves but also and especially true as they continue on a deepening journey of faith. Your place in the past and your place now... is still very influential. Trust that even as you stand humbly in that place of ongoing influence.
And as you trust them into to this new journey, remember that Baylor’s mission is to offer a transformative education and we are here to walk with them and engage. There are so very many ways to get involved in spiritually formative experiences at Baylor (see Spiritual Life web site) and we hope you’ll encourage them to take advantage of these opportunities.
May God bless us all as the changes in the lives of those we love prompt changes in our lives.
Dr. Burt Burleson