I received one of my favorite surprises when I got home from work last week. There was an amazon.com package on the front step. The box contained Anne Lamott, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. The story begins with a conversation with her nineteen year old son that most parents dread. Sam told Annie that he was going to be a father even though he had barely started college.
Annie had previously written on her son Sam’s first year. She shared her insecurities and failures and all the people who helped her make it through. This book is about her grandson Jax’s first year. Sam helps her share this story. He agreed to help for he says, “To this day, that book is the greatest gift anyone has given me … I hear (in Operating Instructions) and feel my mother’s love for me.” This is a continuation of that love story: of what it takes to parent grown children and become a grandmother. The book is witty, funny and neurotic all at the same time. She struggles with how to give advice and yet let go.
One of her pieces of advice to her grandson is written on his first thanksgiving:
Dear Jax: … it is time for me to impart to you the secret of life. You will go through your life thinking there was a day in second grade that you must have missed, when the grown-ups came in and explained everything important to the other kids….But there was not such a day in school. No one got the instructions. That is the secret of life. Everyone is flailing around, winging it most of the time, trying to find the way out, or through, or up, without a map. This lack of instruction manual is how most people develop compassion, and how they figure out to show up, care, help, and serve, as the only way of filling up and being free.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner what piece of advice would you give to your kids or grandkids or the young person in your life. What would you pass on that would help them to grow into themselves and navigate the world. Would you share a story from your life that contains meaning for you? Is there a scripture or hymn that would share your faith with those precious to you?
In the Gospel of John, Jesus spends his last night with his disciples imparting wisdom, John 13-17. He shares what he believes they need to know in order to continue on after his betrayal and death. He tells them to believe in him and in the Father. He tells them that a Holy Spirit will be coming. He tells them to love one another. He tells them they are no longer servants but friends. He prays that they may all be one. He gives to them his peace. Take time this month to share your wisdom, to pass it on to those you care for.