Friday, April 16, 2010

Empty Nest?

My wife and I are facing a new milestone and it comes as a surprise to me. I thought we had already gone through the "empty nest" experience. Our eldest daughter is a teacher in her late twenties and has been out of the house for a while. Our second daughter is married and has been gone and graduated from college for several years. Now, our baby daughter is about to graduate from college and she will go on to seminary.

Doesn't it seem like we should have already gone through the "empty nest" thing? Actually we did. When baby daughter left home for college, we went through some grief over it, but after a while we got used to it, as most parents do, and we kind of enjoyed our marriage again.

What is surprising to me is that I am feeling grief all over again. You see, our baby daughter, while away from home in college for four years now, was in college only forty minutes away. She was home often, and in the back of my mind I knew that if she needed us, we could get to her in short order.

Now, that she is about done with college and ready to move over four hours away it's hit me again. Am I a sap or what?

Here's what I'm learning about myself. (I know it's not rocket science)

1. Life is a process of growth and development. That means that everything changes sooner or later. Just recently I watched "A River Runs Through it"- a great story about a Presbyterian Minister and his two sons. The story is told from the older son's point of view. The story ends with everyone dead, except the older son who is fishing. At the end of the movie I was crying. Mary thought I had lost it. I was crying because of the passage of time.

2. Life is filled with grief because of the passage of time. No given moment lasts forever. It all moves or we move or things move. Nothing stays as it was. On the whole that's a good thing. There are people who are really glad that life in America is not now like it was in the 50's for them. Many things change for the better. For the better or not, it hurts. It pinches. It grieves us.

3. I like the prayer of AA which says: "Lord give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know one from the other."

Where are you on this great movement in life? I'm further along than I care to admit, but faith in Christ tells me that there is still much to experience and go through. Jesus said: "I have come that you may have life, that in abundance..." It's all about living a full life which means living it all fully, in the joy that we are being moved along by the Spirit.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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