The other day I was thinking about moments in your life that provided the most sublime feelings; those times when you feel fulfilled and living the role you were meant to play in this lifetime. I thought about the many times I have sung for an appreciate audience, or wrote and gave a humorous speech that had every one in uproarious glee. Those were wonderful moments but the satisfaction was fleeting, ending about the moment the time of the last hand clapping.
Then I thought on the deeper and more spiritual and more meaningful moments when I felt satisfied and pleasured by my place in the world. And then I thought about the sublime pleasure I used to feel in having one of my children asleep in my arms. When they were babies, they would settle into my arms, peer sleepily up at me, smack their little lips, then fall into the sleep of the innocents. I can't tell you why but the feeling of your babes nestled into your arms is such a sensual and intimate experience.
Even when my babes were older I felt such power as I lifted them from the car, having fallen asleep after a night at the movies or a dinner out. You bent down, lifted them gently into your arms and ferried them off to their beds. And the level of trust they bestowed upon you was greater than the most glorious praise from anyone else.
Even the simple act of looking in on them before you went to bed was so empowering. As they lay in their beds sleeping, and dreaming of games and tomorrows joys, you look down to them, bend to kiss their cheek, loving them more for their quiet nighttime grace, you feel like you've done your job this day. You've seen to their needs; you've provided a safe home for them, your work has put nourishment on their table, and you've done your best this day to guide them down a road that shows promise and happiness.
We had four children and we had them when we were too young. That promises that you'll make many mistakes. For all that, you look back on the times when you got it right, when your day ended and you were satisfied with that day.
And when they are grown, or nearly grown, your child is fighting for adulthood, for their own unique identities, and your own personal views may not be those of your child. The inevitable clashes will occur and the loss of intimacy between parent and child will often feel like a chasm so wide it will never be breached. But, thank God, most often love and time and life experience will bring parent and child together again.
But once your children are grown, you will never, ever achieve those moments of sublime bliss when you cradled that babe nestled so incredibly in your arms. Never again will you have little arms wrapped about your neck, head on your chest, as you carry them off to bed.
Perhaps the only experience that might approximate those moments is when you lay helpless in old age, with death near, as your child, now grown, lifts you up in your aging frailty, kisses your cheek and whispers both love and thanks for a time when the roles were reversed.
The sublime cycle of life...never to be denied.