Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Absorbing The Grace

Yesterday we bought groceries for just the two of us for the first time in 22 years. It's been a radical change the past six months - going from buying several 4L jugs of milk a week to buying one 1L jug and that often going sour before it's used up. Cereal boxes that were sitting in the cupboard 6 months ago are still there. What a change from buying several of those mega boxes of cereal twice a month. It takes a lot of food to feed a family and for many years we had three teenagers in the house at once, two of them boys who sometimes had shoe sizes to match their age! Last week one day oldest son gave me a hug and said, "You are shorter than I remember."

I think about when I house sat for an older couple a few years ago and I was shocked by how little food they kept in their house. There's a glimmer of understanding now. When there are just two of you it doesn't take $800 worth of food to keep you going!

So this is the journey. What we signed up for when we had kids in the first place. I'm beginning to see that none of it is predictable - well maybe it's predictable - but I've been unable to prepare myself for any of it. And I find it hard to live in this present moment only.

Yesterday as we wandered up and down the aisles there were so many things we looked at where we said, "Don't need to buy that anymore." There were few times while the kids were growing up that buying groceries was something we took for granted. I liked being able to buy that special cereal or special treat for them when we shopped. I think they would be able to say that it was the little treats in life that brought them great pleasure. I know it did me.

I've had two people in one day talk to me about being an empty nester. Both surprised a bit at how painful I'm finding the experience. I had some words of wisdom today from a father who has children older and younger than mine. One paragraph about parenting and one about the spiritual journey:

"The toughest challenges come through our children, and it is really tempting to have misgivings, doubts, fears, self-abnegation, and a lot of other useless focus. I know, because my wife and I face the same stuff, perhaps not at the level that your youngest son is dishing to you at moment, but for every attentive parent there is much of our past and present that discourages us. I think you know that the only solution to the situation with your son lies in the present, and what you are doing for him right now is the best (and only) thing you can do: pray for him and demonstrate your love for him. I imagine by now you've realized that there is little use in giving him directions unless he is asking you to. What he needs most is you yourself. As you grow, he will be more and more attracted to you."

"You seem to be very accessible to your Heavenly Father just now. You find yourself before him as a helpless child, exactly the way he insisted you must bve to receive anything from him. Sad, isn't it, how so much grace flows off our backs as we thrust forward with full confidence in our mission, our faith, or whatever; because all we really have confidence in is ourselves. When we finally come face to face with how destitute we really are we can begin to absorb what he has been pouring out over us all this time."

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