Many of my friends and readers have children leaving for their first year of college in the next week, or two. My heart is with them. Just last fall, we sent Keara, our oldest daughter, off to school. It may have been only 120 miles away, but it was far enough to create a distance and level of vulnerability that was difficult for us to accept.
One of the ways we managed to honor our emotions, but empower her was to “bless” her on her way. It was a really moving experience for all of us, including her younger brother and sister, who felt her absence as keenly as we did. It’s a tradition we will continue this year as she packs her bags at the end of this week and again heads north.
If you are looking for a way to “let go” in Love, here’s the blessing we used, but I want to affirm that what is in your heart and mind, what is authentic to your family’s language and experience, will always work best. Too often, we are afraid to articulate the Love and the deep truths that reside in our hearts. We hold back out of fear that we will stumble, sound silly, or maudlin.
What if we cry ? Maybe we will!
Will our emotions make us look weak, or scare our kids? Maybe they will!
Who knows? Who cares?
They can handle it! Showing our vulnerability is actually a sign of great strength. If you don’t believe me, check out the brilliant research of Dr. Brené Brown.
From “A Meditation on Leaving for College”
I love to ritualize moments in my family’s life, and so we often do blessings and prayers as people hit certain milestones, but last night, I decided to try something different. I didn’t want “god-language” to get in the way of Keara’s hearing what we had to say.
I played a short guided Metta meditation by the Buddhist teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, with her husky voice and New York accent. It is a gentle introduction to the Buddhist practice of blessing, which involves the simple repetition of these four lines, beginning with yourself and radiating out to others.
May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live your life at ease.
That’s it and yet, it says almost everything. In safety, we do not act out of fear and all the negative consequences it brings. In contentedness, we are not greedy, grasping, envious, or backstabbing. When we are strong, we protect the weak, not just ourselves. To live at ease does not mean we live without suffering, but rather, that the end of the story is already assured.
We sat through the guided meditation as a family, each of us in silence, and in our own space and then we gathered around our daughter and sister, the one who is leaving our shared space, and we blessed her with the following words:
May you feel safe.
May you feel content.
May you feel strong.
May you live your life at ease.
And in those moments when you cannot feel safe, content, strong and at ease, then may you take a deep breath, center yourself and draw on the resources you’ve been given.
Remember your gifts, your talents, your deepest desires and what you are working towards.
Remember your history, what you have accomplished and the obstacles you’ve overcome.
Remember your family and friends whose Love will never waver and whose support you can always count on.
Remember that Love is your birthright, the place you came from and the place you will find your home.
For it is there that you will find the freedom to become most fully yourself, and committed to your future,
Where you will find the courage to embrace hard work, to overcome setbacks, to process your confusion and disappointments and learn from them.
May you always come home – to yourself and who you truly are – gloriously Keara Moses Kirkpatrick, a creative, passionate, determined soul, who is a gift we call our own.
Amen, Keara. That is our wish and our blessing for you as you move into your own space in the world, physically, spiritually, and professionally. You know where to find us whenever you want to come home.
Good luck friends as you send your children on their way towards greater freedom and responsibility. The risks are greater, but so too is the reward.
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I remember the love,
and yes the tears.
My sons graduated
a long time ago.
God bless your daughter
on her journey.