In law school my housemate introduced me to Khalil Gibran’s, ‘The Prophet,’ and I keep returning to the prophet’s words. One passage troubled me the first time I read it:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”
Watching my daughter grow in her early years, I was struck by how quickly she changed. The Caroline of one-week old was very different from the Caroline at birth. At one-month, six-months, a year, she was metamorphosing: caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
Her rapid changing leveled as she grew older, so her transformations were obvious to me only when I swiped my fingertips along photographs of her taken over the years.
But then, she began college, was away in Spain, spent a summer in New Hampshire, and I held in my mind’s eye the memories of who she was each of the last times I saw her, a still-life of a butterfly. She was, however, busy metamorphosing while she was away.
I would only realize this when I saw her, looking so different. And I thought once:
My daughter is not my daughter.
Gibran was kind to parents in his poem, knowing his words might hurt, so he also said:
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
I have always held that line dear.
“The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that his arrows may go far and swift.”
On Wednesday, we picked up my daughter from camp. She drove while my wife slept. I was not with them. I was somewhere nearby driving the second car, wondering if she was ahead of me or behind me, knowing all along she was soaring towards the infinite.