We had poured all our efforts into making the season golden, thinking it would stretch time. This was my son’s first holiday home from college. My heart is glad for the time spent. Yet somehow his last forty-eight hours at home flew by and seemed less than ideal with conflicting schedules and a mad rush to fit everything in. The last two days did not yield the perfect plans or meaningful, one-on-one connection I had envisioned. Even the morning he flies back across the country I am a’flutter with the endless needs of the household, sickness, younger siblings, and my own busyness. It is when he pulls his overstuffed suitcase out onto the curb at the airport and stands taller than I am that it all catches up to me. I hug his lanky frame tight, and suddenly I want all the moments back. I fight to find the words to just say goodbye. I apologize for the things we never got to. How many times can you ask forgiveness of the same child? He responds, “It’s ok, Mom, I still love you regardless.” Kindness and understanding are his strength, and I think for a moment how true his statement has been. I think of his word choice, “regardless” – meaning “without paying attention to the present situation; despite the prevailing circumstances.”
I signed up to give my life away – my time, my energy, my career with a picture in my mind that looked much like a formula for achievement for both my son and I. The hard truth is, the formulas have so often gone awry for the both of us. How many times can my heart feel broken over the one child? I really have tried to give my all through the many seasons, but I’ve tripped hard on my own nature, been blinded, and then fallen so short. The lack at times, and the drama of the “prevailing circumstances” has been acute. I drive home from the airport through traffic and think of the pain I feel splitting my heart. Part of the pain of saying goodbye is the myriad realities this side of heaven that I feel pulsing in the one chamber of my heart – like a battleground of the cross and the resurrection. I hold the awareness of how I have held him and how I need to let him go. I hold fears tethered to prayers of protection and favor. I hold dreams and hopes that align with his God-given talent and yet am too aware of his humanity. I hold the agonizing realization of my own glaring need for him to extend merciful forgiveness and grace to me, his mother.
I think of my son’s response to me, his statement of forgiveness – How the need and practice to reciprocate forgiveness has been the prevailing force of love that has covered us as mother and son through these passing seasons. Because of the forgiveness from the cross, we can look forward, not to the stretching of earthly time, but to the transfiguring of it – how faith in him brings redemption and healing from the daily wounds we inflict on one another. Because of him new seasons will bring new life despite ours messes and dark wrestlings. I think of how deeply loved we are, what illuminating hope it brings to think of the encompassing, eternal purposes of God. How he means to make saints out of us – mother and son.
“I will lead the blind on a way they do not know; by paths they do not know I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These are my promises: I made them, I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16).