We really cannot stay...
There's a wonderful song by the band Iona about the fleeting nature of life. It rises with marvelous instrumentation, and the haunting voice ponders the sky, the shafts of light wafting through the fir, the staggering beauty and love that is all around us. Then she reminds us, more than once that, 'we really cannot stay.'
Truly. But we can at least drink it in better than we do. We can at least learn to be present with creation, with one another, with ourselves, with our creator. We can at least learn to let ourselves feel, and learn, and love deeply, and confess. We can do these things, and if we're to really live, we must.
The picture I've posted was one I took Friday night at my youngest daughter's graduation. The picture says so much to me because there she is, triumphant, celebratory, victorious. But there are her older brother and sister too, sharing the victory, even as they shared in the sacrifice, even as we did as parents. I looked at the picture when I arrived home after the graduation and realized that this is the way it is, nearly all the time: someone is being girded up by others. It's the way families work when they work best. It's certainly the way parenting and marriage work. It can be the way communities work too, if we'll allow the call to serve and bless to sink deeply into our souls and begin to do it - right now, right here, right away.
I love the picture for another reason too: these are my children. I tossed leaves at them, threw them in air, taught them how to climb rocks and rappel off of them, taught them to love music, traveled with them to Colorado, and Canada, and California, and Austria, and Hungary, on various adventures, prayed with them, read with them, cried with them, argued with them - played my part in their formation. And now this: the three of them together in joy. It was a culminating moment.
But we really cannot stay can we? No, we must go on - each of them to find their voice, their calling, their adventure, while my wife and I find ours. We cannot stay. But we CAN be there, in the moment, drinking it in deeply, and giving thanks to God for all the gifts of life, love, and companionship captured in that one poignant moment. Being there, and living it, is enough.