Whew! Busy day yesterday: old friends came over to the island to visit for a day, rehearsal last night, and our younger daughter was busy prepping our ancient Eurovan for a trip across the mountains to Montana to visit her college roommate.
But she and I did manage to find a little time at bedtime last night to re-connect and share observations on some of her struggles and the ways our family dynamics sometimes play out in her life. And at one point she voiced a concern I remember feeling myself at her age; that she didn't have much to offer people who might be meeting her for the first time.
So I smiled when this morning's reading in Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved brought me this passage:
"Our life itself is the greatest gift to give -- something we constantly forget. When we think about our being given to each other, what comes immediately to mind are our unique talents: those abilities to do special things especially well. You and I have spoken about this quite often. 'What is our unique talent?' we asked. However, when focusing on talents, we tend to forget that our real gift is not so much what we can do, but who we are. The real question is not 'What can we offer each other?' but 'Who can we be for each other?'...It is the gift of our own life that shines through all we do. As I grow older, I discover more and more that the greatest gift I have to offer is my own joy of living, my own inner peace, my own silence and solitude, my own sense of well-being. When I ask myself, 'Who helps me most?' I must answer, 'The one who is willing to share his or her life with me.' "
So I read it to her over breakfast -- and she didn't even roll her eyes at me! Amazing!
... and now she's off, traveling alone for 12 hours across the mountain passes between here and Bozeman, equipped with Goldfish and 5-hour Energy and a box full of cassette tapes of me reading children's stories, from the radio shows I was doing when I was her age. I hope you'll join me in surrounding her with blessings for her trip; I'll be thinking of her often today.