Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dear Granddaughter,

As the unknown birthday for my first grandchild, a little girl, comes near, I find myself thinking about Phillip Booth’s wonderful poem, “First Lesson:”

Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you

A parent cradles his child, holding her up upon the great seas, directing her to look up, hopefully, always. He wants her to know that she will certainly become expert in time. She will have both the skill and strength to endure, to reach her destination if she trusts the sea to hold her.

Booth’s lesson is the only one we need to teach. It is:

swaddled by loving parents,
            we go forth upon the sea,
                        buoyed by a faith that will carry us home.

May I be wise and humble enough to impart this lesson.