Our church’s youth group has a wonderful tradition: as part of a retreat for high school seniors, parents are invited to write a letter to their children that they receive at the retreat (and the kids are invited to write letters to their parents). It’s a wonderful rite of passage that encourages reflection and gratitude and honesty. The result, as you might imagine, is a lot of tear-stained letters.
Deanna and I just finished our letters to our second-oldest, Coleson. Deanna’s was absolutely gorgeous and moving–I’m still wiping the tears off my desk.
In some ways, writing mine felt like a bit of an appendix to my “Letter to a Young Parent.” I reproduce just a snippet here, only because it’s a way to share this wonderful quote and metaphor from Christopher Buckley’s memoir of his parents, Losing Mom and Pup.
“We haven’t always gotten it right as parents (as I’m sure you’ll agree). But we’ve always tried our best, and our only goal has been your flourishing. So we’ve tried to channel you toward a good life–a life well-lived. In Christopher Buckley’s memoir of his parents, Losing Mum and Pup, he talks about his father teaching him to sail. “He taught me on that trip how to navigate by the sun and the stars with a sextant. As I look back, it seems to me one of the most fundamental skills a father can teach a son: finding out where you are, using the tools of your ancestors.” Well, I didn’t teach you anything as concrete (or bourgeois!) as sailing, but I hope you some day see that we have been trying to help you get your bearings with the faith of our ancestors–Abraham and Isaiah and Paul and Augustine, and above all Jesus, who is both our brother and our North Star. May you always be able to navigate where you are, and who you are, and whose you are.”