It’s way before Labor Day, but my daughter is back to school. The summer was long and adventure-filled. Yet it also went by way too fast. I imagine many parents feel the same way. Before everything rushes off and we settle down into the new routine with its meetings, calendars, and holiday breaks, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect more deeply on the summer that was.
Similar to the Jesuit Examen, I am guided by these reflection questions: Where did I feel the presence of God? What emotions or circumstances surrounded that experience? What gift can I receive in gratitude? For what can I pray for in hope?
I felt God’s presence mostly when my child chose to hold my hand. Some times it was to cross a street in an unfamiliar part of the world (like Mexico) or when we were just going shopping and she wanted to be by my side. At other times, she led the way for me: to her 5th grade graduation ceremony, around her new middle school, or to the Tae Kwan Do National Championships. She has been the marvel that God brought forth into the lives of her parents. She made us this family.
Emotions and Experiences
This year, Hannah took her first solo flight on a plane. We traveled together by car and plane extensively over the summer and she has had sleepovers at friends and relatives before. But there was something particular about bringing her through security and placing her on the plane as an unaccompanied minor. (Not to mention the fact that at that particular time, we were under high alert with nuclear saber rattling with N. Korea).
We had to part ways. Yet, I was required to remain at the gate until the plane pulled away and left the airspace. I am sure the whole experience will replay itself in future summer camps, trips, and “leaving home” experiences to come.
All is grace and grace is a gift. The gift that I see often repeated–which makes this bittersweet–is the gift of being reminded to “calm down.” Parents get stressed. Kids notice it. Sometimes my daughter tries to help. But she knows there are things awry in the world that concern her parents and she cannot do much to help. Her reminders, though often annoying and ill-placed, still ring true.
The words stand as a pledge that there was a time before the stress and upset. There are even times of enjoyment and goodness despite whatever troubles persists (a bill to pay, a repair to be made, a task still to complete). And the words stand in place of remembering all is not lost.
A Future of Hope
In no small way, my daughter’s life has been irrevocably changed since November 2016. It is palpable. Our house is much more filled these days with political talk and with grassroots action. This has been an overwhelming and tiring endeavor for her to witness. We are also know its toll on her parents and our ability to have quality time as a family.
I think my daughter realizes how much the world surrounding her loves her. She was surrounded by her graduating class and the parties that surrounded that and the beginning of summer. She went off on a long road trip to Detroit where she won the National Championship and got to share that experience with her cousins in Toronto and use it as a ruse to surprise her grandfather on his 80th birthday in NY. She got to bring that joy and presents to Mexico to share with her cousins in July and then share all of that with the other side of her family in August.
I think this summer, she learned that it comes at a cost: in money, time … and something else involving something bigger. She saw it reflected in how her parents handled their everyday work, the changes that happened around us, and how we struggled to make sure what was important remained.
It has been a full summer and she is ready for a full year of her own work ahead.
Only you God, know the cycles and seasons and their lengths
You put forth what will last and we witness what fades away
Keep us ever grateful for what you have given us
A child who continues to grow, ever full of GRACE
May the world deserve and receive such riches.
Copyright 2017 Jay Cuasay