There was a little toddler at the beach yesterday playing in the sand. She kept running to the water’s edge to fill up her bucket, then would run back to the place next to her mom on the beach and pour the water into a little hole she had dug. Every so often her mom would pop a little cracker in her mouth or hand her a sippy cup, but for the most part the little one frolicked gleefully by the water. My daughter and I kept smiling as the little girl played, amused by the little one’s antics.
The few hours spent at the lakeshore yesterday with my youngest daughter were bittersweet. She leaves for college at the end of next month, and as much as I say I know she is ready, in my heart I know that I am not ready to see her go. I felt the same way when her older brother and sister left, too, but this time it is a little bit worse. Yesterday, as I watched that little toddler and looked at my own 18-year-old girl, I realized how much of life has already passed by. I saw grandparents at the beach with their grandchildren, and I realized that could be us in a couple of years. How did we get here? Where did the last thirty years go, when so much of this was just beginning?
I take these thoughts to prayer often of late and I don’t even really know what to pray for. So, I ask God for acceptance of whatever lies ahead. I thank God for the times we shared with our kids when they were little. I pray for the safety and well-being of those in our family and families everywhere. I ask that those without families of their own will have good neighbors and friends to be family to them, that nobody will be lonely or scared. I pray with the all-too-clear realization that nothing in life is promised, especially not tomorrows, so my prayers have become fervent, pleading, incessant.
Last night at our local Newman Center, our family attended the Sunday evening Mass. Even though the Gospel was from Mark 6: 7-13 (Jesus’ sending forth of the disciples, two by two), the homilist referenced Jesus’ conversation with Peter (John 21: 17):
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
I don’t know why this was part of the homily, but it was important for me to hear last night after our afternoon at the beach, because Feed My Sheep has been a Scripture passage that I have used in prayer for over fifteen years. I’ve had one or more of our “sheep” at home for the past twenty-six years, and now our “flock” is scattering. Looks like the next question in prayer will be, “Who ARE the sheep, LORD?” It appears I’ll have to stay tuned and find out…