I took longer than usual about my morning ablutions, enjoying every moment from the thyme-scented bath to the flawless foundation (well, flawless for me) to the popping red lips. I painted my nails and tried to look at my – let’s call them curves – as if I could love them. A little bit. I checked that my hair had just the right balance between bouncy curls and sleek smoothness that it needed for the evening’s activities (eight hours later), before pinning it all up again to protect it from our humid climate.
By the time I was ready for the day, mundane as my morning plans may have been, I was bubbly with a little inner champagne of joy and a serious case of the ‘I’m-all-that’s.
I headed outside to hang out the laundry (see? I told you. Mundane.) It was the perfect day for it: hot and bright, with a soft little breeze to ease the oppression of too much humidity.
I’d just taught Goldilocks about the meditative power of doing chores, and I decided to sink into mine with a soulful relish.
The breeze dance through my just-styled hair, displacing some of the morning’s artistry. Usually, I’d have railed inside at the frustration. I’d have willed my hair to stay in place – maybe even pinned it down. I’d have been frustrated by my inability to impose my will on the sun, the wind, my hair, the humidity content of the air, the recalcitrantly damp laundry and the pervading heat.
But not today.
Today I let the wind have its way with me. I immersed my self in its cool touch and felt connected to the earth on which I stood, the greenery surrounding me. These all were my mother, my sisters. Soul mates. Friends.
I heard – no, wait – felt the breath of that breeze whisper ancient truths into my waiting mind.
“Your children’s destiny is not your responsibility. It is no reflection on you. What they become is their affair. What they believe is their choice. You cannot make them believe anything. Not ever. You can teach them what you believe, and you can tell them why. You can model your truth, living it with honest and integrity, and without hypocrisy or ulterior motives. And you should. You can give them the tools they need to think, to learn, to discern, and to grow. You can open the door. You can show them the way. You may even walk part of it with them. But it is their way. And you cannot change it. Only they can do that.
Live joyfully with your children. Relish them fervently. Be present with them every moment that you share. Because those moments grow fewer. And those moments, finally, are all that you can truly give them. Make sure they are enough. Waste none.”
A friend is filled with dogma and fear for her children’s souls. If she cannot make them share her faith, they have no hope.
But she cannot make them share her faith though now, perhaps, for a time, they day. Tomorrow is tomorrow, and what will be will be.
I pray for my children’s souls, but I do not fear. I cannot make them believe anything, but I can teach them to live their truth by bravely living mine.
They are wise and they are strong and they will make right choices for themselves. They will make wrong choices for themselves. They will suffer. And they will rejoice. And in between the suffering and the rejoices, in the myriad tiny and tremendous choices they will make each day from this day until their last days, they will live.
And they will live well.