I didn’t park the car and go in with him; I left him curbside at the terminal. I was taking my older son to the airport after Christmas to fly to California to visit with his girlfriend’s family. From the time our children learned to crawl and then to walk, we have been letting them go, setting them free to become who God created them to be. As I dropped my son off, I realized that the day would come when his mother and I will not be the primary relationships in his life. I became aware of the passing seasons in our life together. The writer of Ecclesiastes noted this long ago: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven [3:1].”
2We are always transitioning through a particular season--saying goodbye to what is familiar and comfortable and embracing that new and unknown thing that God is bringing. We live in this matrix of grief and hope.
Marie, the narrator in Alice McDermott’s book Someone, is lying in a hospital bed in Brooklyn with both her eyes bandaged after surgery; and she writes:
Somewhere in the room during those long days of bandaged blindness, my children sat, talking mostly to one another, mostly about where they had managed to park their cars and what time they had left home, what time they should head out again to avoid the traffic: tunnel or bridge, the Southern State or the L.I.E. I heard the bustle of their winter clothes, zip and unzip, buckle and snap. There was the jingle of car keys and the odor of exhaust. I listened to their familiar voices with a vague indifference. Rattle and clink. It was my first sense of their lives going on without me.
There is something reassuring about the realization that the world will go on without us. Our lives are a sequence of seasons that someday will exhaust themselves, but the families we have built, the people in whom we have invested, and the churches for which we have sacrificed will all go on without us someday. The investments we make will enrich a future we will never see.
As you pass into the season of a New Year and all that it will bring for you, may the faithfulness of God surround you and the hope embodied in the Christ child sustain you!
Jim KelseyExecutive Minister, American Baptist Churches of New York State