"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, May 5, 2013

For my daughter

Dear One,

This week has been one of frustration and disappointment for you. It is always hard when someone else seems to be in charge of your destiny, not willing to take a look at circumstances from your perspective. But I am fully convinced that God has a hand in this and we know He wants what is best for you and your future. Your dad and I love you very much and are behind you 100%. We just know that you will land on your feet (to use a cat analogy) and we are excited to see where this will lead you. As you know, this past month I've been reading a lot of poetry. So, if you will indulge me just a smidge, please allow the poets to speak for me today.

In this excerpt from the poem "Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII", the poet  Rainier Maria Rilke reminds us that change is good even when the catalyst for the change seems bad.
Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
Where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
Pour yourself like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with each ending, begins.
Think of this disappointment and this ending as an opportunity for a transformation, as a chance to find that thing that will make you unbelievably happy. Think outside the box. What gifts do you have to share with the world? Where do you want to be in five, ten, twenty years? Begin the journey, a new beginning, with this ending. If you listen to your heart you will know in which direction to take the first steps. My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, says it much better in this excerpt from her poem "The Journey":
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice---
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do---
determined to save
the only life that you could save.
When you feel stuck and unable to move perhaps it is because you are listening to voices other than your own. Even your husband or your dad and I may be voices "shouting their bad advice." Anger, embarrassment, sadness are all natural emotions and I imagine what you will experience all of them, but don't get stuck. In the poem "The God Abandons Anthony", poet C.P. Cavafy encourages Anthony (of Anthony and Cleopatra) to not despair even though the city of Alexandria is falling to his enemy:
When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don't mourn your luck that's failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive---don't mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.

 "Don't mourn your luck that's failing now, work gone wrong, your plans all proving deceptive" seems so prophetic about your situation. Yet, you have told me that already you have felt a sense of peace about what has happened, already you are noticing that you are "graced with courage." And you are. Grace is always a gift. God's gift of grace to you at this time is the courage to say goodbye to this chapter and hello to the next. Remember what the Apostle Peter said:
Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.--- 1 Peter 5:10
However, this is not time to sit and be complacent. I don't think you should give up without a fight, either. At least clear the record, as we spoke about on the phone last night. But in the end you will have to get back to work.  You've heard the saying God can't drive a parked car. This is not the time to park and sit on the sidelines.  Now is the time for action. The poet Unamuno in "Throw Yourself Like Seed" urges you to make that tiny, momentous step along the road that is yours to walk. It is easy to get stuck. But he says:
start then, turn to the work...
from your work you will be able one day to
gather yourself.
With new beginnings comes new and renewed energy. You may not feel it right now, but it is there, the energy that will sustain you through this.

My sweet one, it is hard for parents when things don't go well for their children. I want to swoop in and fix things. Unfortunately there is little I can do but to love and encourage you and, of course, to pray. Fortunately you have been graced with resolute courage and I know that this new beginning will take you to remarkable and exciting places.

I love you with all my heart,


PS to my readers: I did gain permission from my daughter to post this.


  1. What a beautiful post and I will be thinking of R. and sending strength to her! Parenting never gets easier when we love our children so much and want smooth sailing for them. "A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner." I think of my own struggles and how they have made me a better person--not that I love problems, but they make us step up and deal with all aspects of life, not just the positive ones. Hugs to all of you!

    1. I like your quote about skilled mariners weren't made that way by calm seas. I think back on my career and can point to mistakes and missteps that led to better teaching practices and a larger sense of professionalism. I still cringe to think back on some of those events.

  2. Great letter! I hope things get better for your daughter

  3. A great post of encouragement to your daughter. (((HUGS)))


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