April 26th, 2017

There is a place out back, the place where a higher pond meets a lower one, and when the water is leveling to equilibrium, it flows. It flows in a short fall down slickened rock and spreads into ripples across the surface below, making sound and light. This isn’t something activated, like a fountain, but something that water does by its very nature. It flows, it fills, it levels, it spreads. I saw it just now, and it reminded me of what I’ve wanted to tell you.

Everything is moving. Not moving away, but moving together, as one body. Passing and yet not passing away; going and yet not going anywhere. I think you can see this too. It shows up as every little thing: good news, bad news, happy events, sad events, Monday, Friday, trash day, the ordinary and the unforeseen: an evanescent eddy swirling in a stream.

One morning this week I printed out a class schedule on the computer and showed it to my daughter. It filled me with excitement, her first college class schedule—even though it’s not quite college but a summer program for high school students at a college back east—still it is an unfathomable thing to hold in my hands the evidence that my baby will be away on her own for the summer, and soon ever after. What a milestone. I showed it to her over the breakfast table and she barely looked, didn’t even shrug. The meaning was all mine. She’s never been to college and so cannot conjure any sentimental significance out of it. She doesn’t feel any pride in a piece of paper. And in that instant I realized how much I’ve overplayed this, overplayed it all, as if I was the one who made things happen, made things go right or wrong, better or worse, when all along it’s been going by itself like water flowing.

It is perfectly clear and some might even say predictable, especially to those who don’t presume to have a hand in it. This thing that my daughter is doing is what she wanted, asked about, and tried for. She took one step and then another toward who she is and has always been. It is beyond the distinctions of early or late, near or far. It is not a calculation, this nature we have to be ourselves and no one else no matter what.

I offer this to everyone who is so careful and concerned: preoccupied with preventing one thing and engineering another. Perhaps all we do with all our might is simply deliver our children to the place they already belong. Water flowing into water, making sound and light. It’s beautiful.



  1. So often, “the meaning is all mine.” Sometimes, all that meaning is a heavy load to carry. What a relief to be reminded that I can set it down, and simply observe the flow. Beautiful and wise, dear friend.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — April 27, 2017 @ 4:23 am

  2. Oh yes Maezen! I’ve been trying, and sometimes succeeding in just letting the girls just be who they are. Wonderful!

    Comment by Marcea — April 27, 2017 @ 4:51 am

  3. Oh, how I wish I had come to this understanding a bit sooner in life so I could have been more aware of the utter wonder of having my three grow into themselves in spite of my diligent and vigilant ministrations and striving! Take heed, young mothers!

    Comment by Connie — April 27, 2017 @ 6:08 am

  4. Heeding! Thank you both for this great message!!!

    Comment by Julie — June 20, 2017 @ 7:39 pm

  5. A beyond lovely reminder/wake up call to this momma’s soul! Thank you.

    Comment by Jules — April 29, 2017 @ 7:32 pm

  6. So lovely and so timely. My youngest is heading to college this August and with little sentimentality. As it should be, onward always, and in her case, so very far from home. I sometimes fixate with what kind of mother I’d been, or should have been. Did she have enough freedom? Oh how I needed this just now! ?? So glad Priscilla shared this with us!

    Comment by Jayne — April 30, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

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