Your Children are not your Children

 Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran

KAHLIL GIBRAN was a Lebanese poet, artist, and writer. He grew up and came to prominence in the United States.

His most famous work was the book ‘The Prophet’ which he wrote in the 1920s. In the United States ‘The Prophet’ is a bestselling book, second only to the Bible.

He grew up in a Christian family, but he drew inspiration from Islamic mysticism, Indian philosophies, and other religious traditions, believing in the fundamental unity of religions.

He had a hard life, being uprooted at an early age to go to the States. He knew dislocation, his father was a drunk, and his book ‘The Prophet’ was borne out of this pain, out of this suffering. 

 


 

Part 1

The Prophet seems to carry much weight, much wisdom.

In this section on children not being your children, we have an idea of the unique personhood of each individual. Each individual, who is each on their own path, not to be dictated or manipulated by another.

And yet this is easier said than done. So often in families, even in Church families, our wanting the best for another, our knowing best subtly transitions into a kind of manipulation, into a control.

What is it to truly free someone to be their own agent? To give them your love but not your thoughts. To let them explore life, and the meaning of it, in their own way.

The pacifist couple have a child that joins the army.

Conservative parents have a child that comes out as a lesbian.

The Unitarian member decides she will… dot dot dot.

What strains at the boundaries of your family?

What strains at the boundaries of our Church family?

What would it be to release someone from our expectations, from our knowing best, our sense of legacy? To allow the arrows being loosed from the bow to go their own way.

To love unconditionally. To be a spiritual community which prioritises inclusion. To reach out to those not like us.

(Deuteronomy 10:18-19) For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords… mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers once too.


Part 2

Work is love made visible.

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It is not food that keeps you alive. It is not the things you surround yourself with.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do not define your existence upon prized possessions. Love is the flame of life.  Price and cost are for dead things. To reduce something to its price is to destroy its value.

Your life will not have any flowers if it does not have something which is priceless. Do you have something which is priceless?

Do you see the priceless beauty in the oak that towers tall? In the bright joy of daffodils? In love, one to another?

In this earth that exists to live and survive, and our little lives upon it.  That human endeavour, never ending, to grow taller, and go further.  Progress and development. Every human being must learn to live in harmony with this rhythm. Be in accord with one another, and with the seasons of time.

“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half a person’s hunger.

Work is love made visible… The only way to produce a good result of work or labour is when one puts their heart into it. Loving one’s work is one of the greatest contentments a human being could ever feel. No one else could define this feeling, not unless he commits himself into it.

“Work is love made visible…” just as to work is to love.

Amen.