I recently preached on the Gospel according to John and I did not focus on 20:17 but I did spend time in my study pondering it. Call me sentimental but I was thinking about one of my the inner battles of parenting, the need to protect, prepare, and love our children all while not being overwhelmed by the thought that the day is coming when we will no longer be able to hold them, to protect them, even as we will still be able to love them. The day is coming when they too will say, “don’t hold me.”
I was pondering this as I received several e-mails reminding me that in Duncan we have a problem finding volunteers for matters to do with children, like coaching soccer. I know people are busy, and I am aware that I lead a very blessed life in that I can most often choose how I spend my time, and where. Still, I have a hard time grasping or understanding the reluctance of parents to be involved with their children and with the children of our community. They are little for so short a time. Of course, we all know the days are long but the years are short, yet, very few of us act like it.
Maybe Mary knew instinctively that the resurrected Jesus wasn’t going to be around long. Or maybe she was just so happy to see him rather than continue the inner work of coming to terms with the reality of his death. Either way, she knew one thing: she wanted to hold him, to cling to him, to keep him from leaving her again whether by death or any other cause that could separate her from him again.
I get that.
I want to spend as much time with the children who live in my house as I can. I know they are not here for long, I know that the day will come when I will be lucky if they want to be seen with me in public, when my wisdom (my interpretation) is foolishness (theirs:), is coming. I know the day is coming when if they fall I won’t be able to easily scoop them up into my arms, pretend to saw off whatever limb is hurting, make them laugh, and set them back on their feet ready to play once again. The day is coming when my corny jokes will be embarrassing rather than funny. Right now, in coaching soccer, I am like Yoda and Dr. Phil in one. I heal and repair the boys, I teach them (deep wisdom, like it is a good idea to pass the ball, and working hard tends to pay off), I lead them in our awesome team cheer. The day is coming when they realize I am neither Yoda nor Dr. Phil, no sensei either, just a very limited person who happens to be their dad and/or coach. I want to hold these days while I have them, it’s not an ego thing, it’s a sweetness thing. I love high fives from little hands and seeing kids accomplish more than they (and I) thought they could.
Part of the Christian journey is to accept the part of the path we are on at any given time, to be mindful of it, present to its realities, and know that this too shall pass. Whether the moment is good and sweet, or painful and bitter, confusing or full of clarity, new realities arise daily, moment by moment. Sometimes we need to let good things go in order to make space for even better ones, like independent children capable of serving others and bringing hope, peace and love into places that need it.
What might you be holding too tightly?