I tend to often think in terms of endings, of movies, of stories, of days and so on. Maybe I’m a realist or just good at closing doors. Either way, the ending of something always holds an intrigue in my mind.
As a father, gaining sight of far off when my days dim and time as defined certainty swallows youth once emboldened holds all ability to speak directly to the here and now. Then meets now in future grace.
If I had one word to leave my daughters, only a single word before my end, what would I say? The word would need to be substantive, something they could feed on and smell of home. Later in life, if they fumbled a bit, frayed by circumstance or ruined by choice, that word would need to take them back to the start. We all run headlong in the direction of desire chasing fancy and building much about ourselves in careers and identity. I could only imagine the same draw will pull on their growing hearts in this world. With this constantly in mind, of my ending and their continuing, the word needs to deceptively clever - I think, inverted and counter-intuitive. It needs to turn tables when hedged bets and sure things are quickly faltering so as to save them in times of trouble and endings to soon.
What from my life could be hung on one word? What could I leave them with that would be bigger than our parting, more than our eyes catching each other one last time and the rush of memories flooding?
Do I have anything now?
I have my faith, but it’s twisty and they may get tangled. They will need their own decision of faith and love of Christ, not mine to be rooted down with. Of course, there’s grace, but it can be such a big blanket of a word that they may struggle to understand in youth and miss as an adult. Yes, there’s love, but it’s ethereal in the way we treat it, often maligning it with selfish emotion.
Then I thought of forgiveness.
The one word to leave them with that could lead them into a future now, reset them in a moment grown too thin, re-architect brokenness from a day already spent and define all other words wrought in misunderstanding. There in the end, one word left to hang all good memories, all teaching, all mistakes, all failings and all experiences on - forgiveness. And so now in the spying forward around the corner of years to come, I can dig into the earth of their hearts and drop into it a seed that promises to give life always, even beyond my days. Forgiveness would always properly weigh words like faith, grace and love, and certainly bend their faces upward to God.