Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26
A few weeks ago our oldest son Sam started his first year of college. Orientation included a session for Phil and me on “How to Be a Supportive College Parent.” Before answering questions about safety and academic support and the services of the wellness center, the Dean of Students offered advice aimed at curbing parental homesickness. “Begin with a long shower that drains all the hot water from the tank,” he instructed. “Next, eat a bowl of ice cream while lying in bed and leave the dirty dishes on the windowsill. Or better, hide them underneath the bed.” Parents laughed as we recognized the occasional obliviousness of adolescents. We also smiled that in this moment of wistfulness any annoyance now seemed endearing.
Two days after we returned home, a video of interview clips of first year students on Move In Day landed in our email inbox. Asked to say in three words what they were feeling, the similarities from one student to the next were remarkable. They included some variation of “Nervous” and “Excited,” and this word over and over again: “Ready. . . Ready. . . Ready.” And then, one added the note that was written on every glowing face. “Loved.”
The words arrived as blessings – an unexpected expression of gratitude from our kids, a kind and uplifting reminder in the days following drop off that we had done our job as parents as best we could, and a comforting reassurance that this world where we had just released our son was thoughtfully “ready” to take him in.
I didn’t know how much I needed these blessings until I received them.
But isn’t this often the way things go? I wonder if we aren’t always waiting for someone to name the progress of our lives as holy. We may not realize how hungry we are for it until someone hands us bread, until someone acknowledges with us the power of a particular moment. Within the gestures of noticing itself, a blessing is conferred. We see God’s activity in our lives revealed and indeed can name for ourselves how dearly we are “Loved.”
Prayer: God of grace, open us to receive every blessing you offer us along the way. Make us ready to notice and name for one another the holy moments in our lives and to see your love in every one. Amen.