What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!
-Psalm 84, The Message by Eugene Peterson
Our son Bjorn just graduated from high school and our daughter Della did the same two years ago. Later this summer, after working at their summer jobs and taking off a little time to play, both kids will leave home for their respective colleges. This is a moment my wife Anne and I have been thinking about for some time now. It’s called the “empty nest” and it’s a moment all together joyful and terrifying. We’re so proud of the smart, funny, capable and kind young adults our children have become but we’re also more than a little nervous that we haven’t taught them everything they need to know to navigate the world on their own.
It’s important to remember, of course, that learning everything is an impossible standard. Perhaps it’s better to wonder if they’ve learned enough. Enough to not be too scared of the world to see the possibilities. Enough to make more smart choices than dumb mistakes. Enough to know that they have something unique to offer and it’s time that they share the gifts God has given them.
It’s also important for us to remember that they aren’t alone. God will be working through them, their teachers, fellow students and co-workers to move the world ever closer to the vision God has in mind for all of creation. And, as parents, we’re still a part of that vision, even if it means we don’t have to make sure they’re awake, out of bed, and out the door in time for the next thing.
One part of Anne’s and my strategy for adjusting to the empty nest is to get a new nest; we’re moving into a new home later this summer. As we were touring the new home, I discovered a bird’s nest with a couple eggs just out side the front door, the mother singing loudly nearby. By the time we move in, those eggs will have hatched and those chicks too will have flown away, adding their song to the rest of creation’s. That empty bird’s nest will be a good reminder that God has provided our kids and us with just enough of what we needed to take this next big step in our lives. And that now their song belongs out in the world too. “How blest they are to live and sing there!”