A hint of pink silhouettes the eastern horizon as hungry cries drift into my consciousness from the crib. Early morning wake-up calls are common when you have a baby, reason enough to pull a pillow over your head, but there is more in this morning’s grab for my pillow. Late August has finally arrived, bringing with it a foreboding about the future. Moving the baby into bed with me, I feel both his little body and mine relax as he settles in to nurse, and I began my morning prayers.
“Dear Heavenly Father, please, come and be the wind in my sails this morning. You know I have neither the desire nor the energy to leave this peaceful mooring and head into the open seas of the days ahead. Oh, Lord, please, be the rudder of my ship, too. The winds of change are so strong, and I don’t know which tack I should take. Please, my Lord and my God, with the dawning of this new season of family life, be our guiding light; stay close to me and to all those I love. Amen.”
The changes particular to my life this fall consist of a triple-whammy of sending our first child off to college 11 hours from home, transitioning our third child from 8½ years of home school to a regional Catholic high school 40 minutes away, and accepting the need to wean this sixth little bundle now contentedly cooing in my arms. I think I’m doing okay with it all, and then some small comment is made about the baby learning to walk while the oldest is away, and spontaneously tears start to flow.
For many families, the ushering in of a new school year is a season not only of excitement and new beginnings, but of launching and loss too. A friend has her youngest child beginning kindergarten in a few weeks, and is mourning the loss of her identity as the mother of babies and preschoolers. Another is bringing her last child to college and wondering what to do as an empty nester. A third is going back to work after over ten years of full-time mothering, and a fourth will be home-schooling her children for the first time. We all are adding fresh dimensions to our lives and our relationships to our children, but losing cherished dimensions as well.
Lying here, enjoying a tender moment with my baby and my husband, who has woken up and joined us, I feel an overpowering desire to reach out and wipe that trace of pink off the horizon. I rather like the world the way it is, thank you very much. I do not want a new day to alter my life, my nest, nor my identity even one little bit. As a Catholic mom, however, I am blessed with the peace that these beautiful children have never really been my husband’s and mine anyway. They are God’s. Therefore, no matter how far they fly from our nest, they will still be under God’s protection, in the shelter of his mighty and all-powerful wings.
Another deep peace I have is in knowing the power that comes from my friends and I interceding for each other in these times of change. With this in mind, and with hopes of slowing the sun in its rising, if only a little bit, I nestle my baby nearer and envision my morning prayer rising like a dove from my bedroom window. Ascending through the now broadening and brightening band of pink in the eastern sky, my prayer is joined by hundreds, then thousands, and millions of similar, sunrise petitions in its flight toward heaven. I see God on his throne with arms open wide, welcoming this early morning flock. How comforting to know that God hears our cries and is ever ready to nourish our hungry hearts with his love. How comforting to know that we are not alone in our experiences, that we can pray for our children and for one another, and that through such prayer, God will give to us the strength to rise above and overcome the challenges set before us.