Years go falling in the fading light.
So wrote Al Stewart in his hauntingly beautiful song, Time Passages.
I’m feeling every bit of what that line suggests this week as I travel to Phoenix to preside at my daughter’s wedding.
It must be a pretty common thing for a parent to approach a child’s wedding with this sense of time passages. I remember Tevye and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof singing at their own daughter’s wedding these words: “Is this the little girl I carried; is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older, when did they?”
Of all of life’s great joys that I have experienced, nothing really compares to that of parenting a child. Through every stage of time passages that have come and gone, I felt deeply the satisfaction of seeing my children grow into adulthood.
I remember first holding each tiny child, utterly vulnerable and yet comforted by the arms you wrapped around them.
I remember those first tentative steps, and how the fear of taking them was overcome by their tiny fingers gently wrapped around a single extended finger hanging at the end of your arm.
I remember first words, first books read, first days of school, first baseball games, first recitals, first dates, first graduations.
I remember mostly the transition from the utter dependence of early childhood, to the explorations of independence as toddlers, to the awkwardness of those pre-teen years, to the confidence of a growing adolescent – and finally, adulthood – when the child related to you as a peer and brought to the conversation and the relationship a wisdom their own experiences afforded them.
I remember the struggles of wanting to protect them from a danger you saw, but about which they would only learn more by enduring it. Parenting was never without risk, and always fraught with the fear of getting it wrong.
And then one day your child find’s another to whom they will give their heart, and a whole new world opens up on the other side of it. You realize that you got something right along the way, and someone else sees in your child a person they can’t live their life without.
I am so happy for my little Molly, my third and final child, my only daughter. I am proud of the woman she has become. I am proud of the partner she has chosen to make a life with. I am proud to be the one who will stand as witness before God and bless the union they intend to share with each other through the living of their days.
I am utterly incapable of knowing how this happened so quickly. Her mother and I have loved her into her adulthood, and have thanked God every day of her life for the precious gift she is to us and to the world.
We wish her the best in the new life she and her beloved will make of their partnership.
Gentle listener, take stock. Years go falling in the fading light. Time passages often leave us little time for reflection on the joys that come and go. Let not this day pass without pausing to take stock of your blessing, and giving thanks to the Creator who has blessed you richly on this, your journey Into the Mystic.