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And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
By:  Kahlil Gibran

I read my friend’s blog tonight, and she was talking about how no one owns their children; they are on loan. And that reminded me once again of Kahlil Gibran’s prose about children. I have always loved this one, and have found it to be true in my life also.

How true it is that our children do not belong to us. We try desperately to give them our thoughts for awhile, and yet they have their own thoughts. (Just as we have ours.) When they reach an age of independence, they are finding their way, and they are torn between needing our help, and needing to be on their own.  I remember that feeling clearly. There was such an excitement about being alive, and I was sure that no one else knew the things that I knew, or felt the things that I felt. I was learning that parents weren’t always right about everything, and some rules seemed worth breaking. I guess we all go through at least a little rebellion. It’s part of finding ourselves. And we certainly develop our own thoughts. We do not want to do it their way…we want to find our own way. Even mistakes are part of the journey.

But parents know what life is truly like, and we (as young people) are just learning-just beginning to see some truths. There is for most of us, little sorrow yet. Therefore, we think that life is one big carnival ride, and the seats are rocking back and forth, and our feet are dangling, and we’re invincible. That’s not to say we don’t feel pain. It’s just that we are not yet intimately connected with it.

As parents, we can house our children’s bodies, but not their souls. He says that their souls live in the house of tomorrow-a place we cannot visit, even in our dreams. Doesn’t that just paint a picture, a melancholy feeling of watching a child walk into the future, and knowing that you cannot hug him on the other side, because it is their future, and not your own? Yes, you can share some of it (often from a distance), but you cannot dance into all of their tomorrows. And there is a sadness when this is realized.

He says you may strive to be like them, but don’t try to make them like you. How can we strive to be like them? I think in innocence, in anticipation, in excitement, in joy, in unconditional love, in singing, in dancing, in trusting, in faith, and in believing.

Jesus said that we could not enter the kingdom of heaven except we become like a little child. A little one with childlike faith, who trusts and believes innocently. A child with no doubt, because all things are possible with children. A child who loves from the heart without prejudice or conditions. The purity of a child is a beautiful thing to behold.

There is a time in your life when you become focused on what they (your children) will achieve, and how they will accomplish it, more than you are focused on your own dreams. It is a time when parents become mentors, advisers, and even friends, but never again reluctant dictators.

You can sense that time is moving on. There are new inventions, new ways of doing things, and the past is in the rear-view mirror, and can only faintly still be seen. Gibran writes, “…for life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday.”

I understand that separation. There were days when I longed to almost drag my mom into my reality, into life as I was living it, but I could not bring her fully with me. And so it goes with all of us.

As parents, we are the bow that sends the living arrows into the future, but it is the Archer (who guides us) that directs the swiftness and the distance of the arrows, to His directed destination. It is His will that we bend to His might, and remain flexible under His leading. For they are truly His children, and not ours. So He asks us to bend with gladness to His will, and to trust Him that the arrows will hit their mark.

For His love is not only for our children, but also for us…

 (To stay on my blog and view this, press the arrow in the middle of the video, but DO NOT press on the screen where they have written “Press Play”. That will take you to YouTube. So just press the arrow as you do on all these, and then wait patiently for her to come out.)

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One Comment

  1. I heard this poem in church yesterday and googled it b/c I wanted to read it for myself. Thank you for sharing the prose. Your summary also helped to drive the point home. God Bless.

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