THE HOUSE OF TO-MORROW

Many a times, when some parents share with me their fears and frustrations over their children, I find myself empathising with them. I am able to understand their problems because I 'stand outside' and view those problems. I, too, have a teenager son. Most of their struggle is mine, too... most of their fears and frustrations... most of their dilemmas. So, empathy comes naturally to me whenever I counsel other parents. At times, I find myself quoting my favourite author, Kahlil Gibran:

"Your children are not your children...
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself;
They come through you, but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they do not belong to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For Life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far,
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

I have never quoted for any one the entire piece. I have only taken a line or two from this only for the sake of 'effect'. Particularly, I have used the first two lines: " Your children are not your children... They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself."

Today, it struck me like a bolt of lightening: I had never read the piece fully all these years. Or, was it that: I had never understood it?

I have only one son. As a parent, I struggle while I raise him, educate him. I experience my fears, anxieties and frustrations... I get into my angry - some times, even violent - bouts... I slip into my caves, sulk, cry, repent... promise to myself, to my son, to be more caring and loving henceforth... but, then, again, I go back on my words... make the same mistakes. I struggle... I wander... I wonder.

"Your children do not 'belong' to you," I must've told this to other parents a thousand times. "You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, which you can not visit, not even in your dreams." Have I understood the meaning of these lines?

Each line, today, hit me with unbelievable newness. Probably, because, I felt the pain of my current struggle unbearable. Yes, maybe, I was thirsty for the meaning. "You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for Life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday." How true!

I may try to be like my son! It is mind-blowing!

And, finally, this: "Your are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth... The Archer (God) bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer's hands be for gladness, for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Do I know that I am only a bow in the hands of God, the great archer? Do I know that He bends me so that His arrow - my son - goes swift and far?

Knowing is only one part of my growth. Living in tune with that knowledge is the most significant part. I am yet to grow here... My 'bending' is far from over...

After all, am I not an arrow shot by the same Archer from His another bow?


GERALD D'CUNHA

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