Our oldest graduates high school tonight.  Every single cliche that was ever written about time flying has come painfully home to roost.  In those hard early years, when it felt like eternity just to get through a day, well-meaning older people would say “Enjoy it – it goes so fast” and I would nod and think Yeah, right.

Yeah, right.

One day you are bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation because they are newborns and the next because they are teenagers. And then they have the audacity TO GO TO COLLEGE!  How intensely ungrateful of them to grow up and leave.

The question I keep asking myself is how did we get here?

It’s the way of things.  When he was little, I would hold him and think I never want this to change and then it would and it was better.  Every phase seemed more interesting and fun, and I have to cling to that now – I need to hold tight to my past experience and trust it to be true for the future.  The best is yet to come.

Ah.  But isn’t that what God tells us over and over and over?  How am I so slow on the uptake?

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18

I know the plans I have for you … plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. I Corinthians 2:9

The grand narrative of scripture is so often about the next best thing.  Promises that what will come is better than what is now.  Sometimes the now is good, sometimes not, but either way better is commencing.

Merriam-Webster defines commencement as “a time when something begins.”

So why does it feel so much like an ending in my heart? I’ve spent the past few weeks reveling in the endings.  So many finals.  His final juggling show.  His final high school choir concert.  His final Boy Scout meeting.

While he’s been taking finals at school, I’ve been taking the finals of his childhood.

I am one of those lucky parents whose child is toward the young end of his particular grade.  As a late May baby, my boy just achieved adulthood legally.  So ALL of it culminates at once.

He commences. Something new is beginning.

In this time of lasts, there are also so many firsts.  The first time he signs his own waiver (that would be so he can ride a mechanical bull at the all-night graduation celebration – say, what? I am not sure he is qualified to make that decision! Oh wait.  Yes he is.) His first solo doctor’s appointment.  “Do you want me to go with you?”  “Yeah. But just sit out here in the waiting room.” Talk about feeling irrelevant.  Although it was kind of nice that HE had to fill out the paperwork!

He and his friends joked about buying cigarettes on their birthdays just because they could, not because they have any interest in smoking. (They didn’t do it.  Whew.)

I need to commence, too.  Not only do I need to take my hands off the wheel, but I should probably exit the vehicle.  On the other hand, I’m helping pay for college, so maybe I’ll just climb into the back seat.  This metaphor isn’t playing out quite how I’d like.  No one likes a back seat driver.

How do I commence this new phase of my life?  Again with the cliches – If you love something set it free…   Whatever.  But it is kind of fun to watch them fly.  Sometimes.

It just feels weird.  Conflicted.  Like I don’t know what to feel.  He’s ready.  I’m sort of ready.

There are things I keep reflecting on – have I said everything I should have? (Probably not.)  Have I said things I shouldn’t have?  (Yes. Uff da, yes – not so proud of those).

For the most part we’ve done it right.  We’ve taught him what is important to us, we’ve modeled the way we’d like to see him live. We’ve also screwed up, but we are big believers in repentance and forgiveness around this house, and so we’ve apologized. A lot.  Mostly we’ve loved him.

SO I keep reminding myself that this is not an end.  This is a beginning of an exciting and fun new phase.  Just like when he first smiled, or crawled, or began kindergarten was more fun and exciting than the previous stage. He is still my son. I will still have a presence in his life.  I will probably not hold my tongue when I should.  I will keep apologizing. I will keep forgiving and being forgiven.

He will take on the world. And with a lot of prayer and God willing, do a great job of it. He is ready to commence.



The Greatest Commandments


Mark 12

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

I’ve decided this summer to explore what this means in a practical sense.  If it’s important to Jesus (and He says so Himself), then it should probably be important to me as His follower.

This is a passage that I’ve known since childhood – among the first of the many many memory passages that dear Jack Musikov helped me learn in third grade Sunday School.  Jack would assign us a verse or two, and when we were able to recite it back to him, Jack would cry.  He also usually gave us some little trinket as a reward, but in looking back, it was his tears that made the largest impact.

Anyway,  it’s a passage that is easily rattled off, and while I’ve often thought about it, I’ve never really dissected how it could be applied in a practical way.  Jesus has never struck me as a theoretical kind of guy.  While He spoke in stories, there is always an element of action implied.  He tells the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more.”  The paralytic is told to pick up his mat. And in the parable of the wise and foolish builders, He says flat out that “Everyone who hears these words of mine AND PUTS THEM INTO PRACTICE is like a wise man…” (Matthew 7:24)

Um.  Hello?!

So why is this so hard?  The distractions of our day are so many that it is easy to not be deliberate about practicing what Jesus considers to be the most important commandment!  There is so much talk these days about intentionality. (Which spell-check is telling me isn’t even actually a word. I can’t point fingers because I make up words all the time. However, when I looked it up in the on-line dictionary, it does appear.  So there, spell-check!)

Our society harps on about being intentional.  I see nothing wrong with that, but how about a little less talk and a little more action?  What does being intentional look like?  And how do we choose what to be intentional about?  Sometimes I think we are mostly being intentional about being intentional. The fact of the matter is, it is extremely difficult to be intentional about everything.  And exhausting.

So I’m going to choose a few things to be intentional about this summer.  And those things are loving God with all my heart.  And with all my soul. And with all my mind.  And with all my strength.

And the hard one.  To love my neighbor as myself.

I will explore these commands in posts over the summer – how I’m trying to put them into practice, when it works and when I fall flat on my face.   And to make it memorable, I’m posting the commands on my wall where I will see them as a mini-reminder every day.

Welcome to my closet. You’ll notice that, yes, I’ve hung my reminder with painters’ tape.  And yes, it is just printed on cheap printer paper.  And yes, the only nod to being even remotely artsy is that I played with fonts.  Not very well.

Hey, you use what you have!  I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.