Monday, March 3, 2008

I used to see my own challenges in this quote; now I offer it to my children

"To leave home, whether it was a good or bad home, is one of the greatest spiritual challenges of our life. Two of the most important ways of leaving father, mother, brother, or sister are forgiveness and gratitude. There is so much to forgive. But if we are willing to see our own parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents as people like ourselves with a desire to love but also with many unfulfilled needs, we might be able to step over our anger, our resentments, or even our hatred, and discover their limited love is still real love, a love for which to be grateful." - Henri Nouwen

MY PARENTS & MY CHILDREN. Years ago, when I first read and wrote out this quote, I found it personally helpful as I applied it to my own challenge of leaving home and looking back on those chapters of my life without bitterness. Now, many years later, I realize that it may be helpful to my own children as they leave home. I, not my forebears, may be their focus of contention or puzzlement.

GRACE TO FORGIVE. I have tried to be different--better--than my parents at expressing attentiveness, support, and future-focused guidance to each of our four children. But I know my love, like my own parents' love, has been as imperfect and conveyed through a character full of its own foibles. But my love has been--and will continue to be--real love. May God grant us all the grace to forgive and see beyond many faults to loving hearts.

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