An Open Letter to My Kids

The format of Gilead is an old man writing to his kid. That combined with my penchant for introspection and contemplation catalyzed this daily writing project know as Church of 6. I have a desire for my kids to be able to glimpse into my existence. Occasionally, then, it only makes sense to write directly to them.

I could start off by writing about things I love doing with you. Things like our almost nightly episode of iCarly. And the way that each of you laugh your for real laugh–usually at Spencer. And how each of your laughter is contagious in its own way, making something that didn’t strike me with laughter originally take on a whole new meaning of pleasure. Or I could write about how much I love the chaos of our supper scrambles around the bar and table. With you all coming and going from your rooms or just getting home from practice, sometimes with ear buds (literally with your buddies in your airpods–get it?), most often with Isaac doing flips through the place as we each eat different meals or all crowd around the El Ac takeout. That burst of consuming chaos is magic to me–even if afterward I must go recover in my nook for a spell 😉 Or I could write about how sustaining and substantive it is for my soul when I get to sit out by the fire with you singing to our favorite songs. Or I could write about how I am inspired and instructed by each of your expressions of unconditional love. By your ability–no it’s more–by your willingness and your desire to treat folks that you encounter with respect and grace. Considering others. Each of you are as true examples of Christ to me. You make me better.

I could write about pulling up to watch Sam at tennis practice. My consciousness divided for a bit by my arrival in my fancy new Camry with the Grateful Dead front plate, music blaring. But as the car turns off I settle in to seeing you and the boys that you’ve been on the courts with since middle school. I see your visor’d mane flopping as you rip a backhand down the line. Always playing with courage and determination. With humility. Always respecting your opponent. Respecting the game. I sit in the high school parking lot that formed me in so many ways, and I witness your formation. Such a solid young man! I don’t know how to pinpoint the emotion. I get so much joy and happiness watching you play.

I could write about peering out the backdoor and seeing Sydney playing her guitar on the deck in the sun. Already so proficient after using youtube to teach yourself during this upside down Pandemic life. I could write about how much peace I feel gently opening the door and quietly pulling up a chair to sit out and listen to you play and sing. Like the way you sing “brought me to you”… that “to you” part in All My Mistakes. How I radiate with glory when those few notes flow through your voice! I love that we can sit in the quiet and know. That in the silence we communicate a lifetime. It’s as Psalm 19 says:

They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

I could write about that look that Isaac gives me right before he launches an attack on me. You still believe you can beat me. And I don’t doubt that you can. Because you are relentless. If ever there was an appropriate name. Isaac. He laughs. I love that spark. That sparkle in your eye. The one that flares when you deliver a witty reply. When you pull out your quiver. You bring delight to me my son! With a glance or a smirk you flood a room with light.

And I could write about how Sam puts his arm around his mama, or how he nods at me when he walks down the halls at school, or how he interacts with his friends, or how I feel when I see him driving back in the driveway, or how much he cares, how he takes care (still working on that phrase) of his person in BS the lesser. I could write about how I feel when I drop Sydney off at her friend’s house, or the jubilant face she makes when the Voice comes on, or how much good time we have driving, or the intensity that envelops her face when she wrestles down Isaac. I could write about how amazing it is to watch Isaac do so well on the middle school tennis courts, how he is so upbeat and encouraging, or how demonstrative he gets talking to his friends via the airpods, or when he’s explaining the plot of a TV show, or how tender and kind he is when he takes care of our dear friends Georgia and Charlotte, or how serene he becomes when he is still enough to let his mama rub his head.

The steady swell of love and life. I do understand the concept of a cup overflowing!

I’ve been pondering consciousness some lately. I’ll catch myself in a moment. Frozen in a sense. And I can’t imagine not being. We think of time and that sound, tick tock, clicking off the seconds. We attempt to conceive of time and being with words as best we can. But it’s so continuous. So constant. I have always been. As far as I know. I don’t stop and start. There’s not really a thing as next. Haha. Now I’m off into the weeds–why can’t you just write a normal letter to your kids? 😉

I love looking at old pictures that pop up on Amazon photos. I love seeing your faces through the years. But I don’t ever deal with the longing of days gone by. I understand why people do. I understand why people say time is a thief, or plead for it to slow down. For me though, I love the old pictures only because they are a piece of who you are now. Now. Who you are. Being.

I hate it when you go through disappointments. I know that gut punch feeling when you hear unwanted news. When expectations are unmet. Like the air taken from the room. I know that feeling. And I feel it when you do. That’s a real parent thing. And I don’t want you to have pain. I don’t want you to be sad. I don’t want to have ailments and fears.

But more and more I realize (realize is a good word)… I realize that all of those things lead to now. Your disappointment and your tears on your pillow are a part of you. Existence. The isolation we’ve navigated as best we can through Covid is a part of you. Through life, loss and pain and sadness and grief are real things. And as your dad I have a desire to protect you from those things. But I’m learning as best I can to let go. I’m learning that, because I know that it is true that there is nothing more real than now. It’s Eternal. Nothing more Beautiful.

And my Faith is rooted in the Hope, in the Belief, in the Grace that those things that shape us, those things that bring us immense joy and heartbreaking despair, those things that pass by without much or any notice. All of time. All that you are. All that I am. All is being Redeemed. Will be Redeemed.

I can’t imagine ever being glad about something that causes you pain. But my gladness is found in Redemption. Redemption of my own faults and failures. Redemption of the loss you will experience. Redemption of the paths that may lead you astray. Because Grace will always be waiting with open arms. Ha! Not just waiting. Eagerly expecting. Longing! So much so that the King will run out to greet you!

And you know what’s so rich? What’s so Good? That I know the reality of that Grace. I realize it. It becomes more and more a part of who I am because of who you are! You are beautiful vessels of Light and Love. Of Hope and Grace. Reflections of the Maker. And the ripples that you stir up, Samuel, Sydney, and Isaac, are as the Water of Life of the Christ to me.

I love you. No Matter What. Remember who you are. BeLive.

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Kids

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