We are supposed to give our children roots and also give them wings to fly, but knowing exactly how to do this is not always clear. A cohesive family unit grounded in love and respect and infused with traditions and the opportunity to make memories will grow roots. Giving them wings to fly....well how do you know what kind of bird they will be? Will they be an eagle and soar gracefully through life, respected by peers, seemingly able to reach incredible heights with little effort, or will they be a peacock, graceful and elegant, proud and capable, able to lift off the ground always finding a safe place to perch. Or, will they be a sparrow, the little bird that Matthew refers to, reminding us that God cares for even the smallest creature.
I think that it is up to the child to determine what bird they will be. We give them the opportunity and what they make of it is how far they will spread their wings. Grace has had opportunities to leave home. She has been asked to do sleepovers which she always declined. She has had the opportunity to attend a winter retreat and part of her really wanted to go, but most of her did not and she declined. She was like the little bird approaching the edge of her nest, never having flown, not sure if her wings would support her or if she would fall to the ground separated from the safety and comfort of her parents. She would teeter close, peering over the edge, and open her wings in preparation for flight, but then back away preferring the comfort of home over the uncertainty of the what lies outside the nest.
Finally she was presented with an opportunity in which the desire to leap was greater than the desire to retreat. Lead week is yearly retreat offered to high school students interested in student leadership. It is held at the same Christian retreat center I attended in June and it is filled with prayer, and education but also fabulous physical activities like rope courses, laser tag, tubing and mud wars. We sent her off surrounded by her friends who know of her trepidation and support her as well as leaders who are dedicated and committed to furthering the spiritual life of teens. My mama heart is happy not to have to worry about her comfort and safety. Her heart is filled with conflicting emotions and she will not know she can do this until she sees the ground below her and the clouds above her and feels carried by the wind safe in the understanding that she will not fall.
Day one is going to be a challenge for her and I alike. We will realize that the roots we have grown will always anchor us and the wings that we are growing will carry us forward in the knowledge and understanding that we are never, ever alone.