You’re leaving this week, and I’m a little short of breath.
In a twist of timing, all three of you precious ones are home and then leaving within a week’s span. You have all left before, and we said goodbye. Then hello came again. And here we go once more with cars full of bed sheets and laundry baskets stuffed with Cup of Noodles. New adventures await, and the timing is right.
But before you go, take a deep breath.
Take a deep breath.
Pay attention to that breath – it’s going with you, to places I cannot.
For all these years you’ve been breathing in the family, sharing the air through better and worse. This home, these teachers, that church, those friends — the whole community has breathed into you and is proud of who you are.
This is your next move, and it’s a good one. Don’t worry about the move after this one, it will show itself in time. Just take the next step. You are filled, ready, and on your way.
Breathe in for another moment, and as you exhale into the world, may it be filled with love.
I was there when you pulled that very first breath into your lungs. Your mom breathed shallow for nine months and one wonder-filled day, to give it to you. And since that day she’s never stopped working, worrying, and waiting for you to come into your own (and waiting for you to come home at night).
I’ve given you my all too, helping you find the places you were meant to breathe. I was reffing on the pitch at Girsh Park as you scored that AYSO goal and threw your clenched hands into the air in victory. I was in the Ellwood classroom on my lunch breaks coaching your math Super Bowl team, so that later, in a fairgrounds conference room filled with city-wide sweaty 5th graders, I could snap that photo of you on the podium. I was strumming next to you as you led worship in “big church” for the first time, as I encouraged you to raise your voice, to speak up, to sing louder. Oh, and I was there with tri-fold poster board laying out the hypotheses for every fricken science project for every fricken one of you.
I see you.
I know you.
And yet, I don’t own you.
You go now, breathing on your own. Thinking on your own. Feeling. Avoiding. Embracing. Finding your own pathways, roommates, careers, and beliefs.
Breathe the air of home deeply and fill your lungs this last week. Feel it all the way down in your diaphragm. What you build on that platform is up to you. I don’t pull the strings anymore, like some grasping Geppetto who won’t let go. But I’d be lying like Pinocchio if I claimed it was easy to say goodbye.
Along the way I thought I was filling you with lessons and techniques, but standing back now, I see those were only trees. The crisp air of the forest is filled with virtue: love, humility, authenticity, honesty, wonder and a wide hospitality. These must be lived to be understood. If your doctrines or teachers don’t bear the fruit of these virtues, change them.
I cannot wait to see where you take this.
It’s a joy to send you off knowing how loved you are. This community has loved you, cheered you on, cried with you, and lived broken lives in your midst. I know we have loved you. You know this is not a claim to perfection, because we’re already breaking down the things we would have done differently. But the gift has been given. How you receive it is up to you.
We’ve said goodbyes before and Lord willing there will be more ahead. What a gift it is to enjoy someone so much that it hurts when they leave.
I may not be on the pitch with you anymore, but I’ll still be watching for you to take that podium, throw your arms into the air, and sing louder. Louder!
Maybe breathing from your diaphragm will help.
You have what you need.
Now go share it with the world.
♦ weekendswell ♦
To read more about the aforementioned pregnant mother, see Who You Are.