On Children

I blog this briefly as I prepare to go and conduct the funeral of a child. My mind was drawn to this poem written by the Lebanese Maronite mystic Khalil Gibran, the third most popular poet in history I am told... though for many this is the only piece of his they know. It was in vogue in the sixties and seventies, but I haven't heard it much since. I'm not actually using it in the funeral, but for any of us who have children, at whatever stage it is worth reflecting on:

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 belong not 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 tomorrow,
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.

Khalil Gibran



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