The last little bird left my nest this fall, and I don’t know what to do.
I clearly remember when my friends were going through this stage of life. I thought, “What’s the big deal? Why aren’t they relishing their freedom and congratulating themselves on a job well done?” I had no idea. The silence is unavoidable, the empty house is cavernous, and my freed-up schedule is like a mountainous beanbag chair I must maneuver around every day.
The prophet Hosea is known for using spousal and parental imagery to describe God’s relationship with Israel, making his writing feel so personal to us. Whether we are the parent or the child, we hear God’s deep longing for what once was: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me (vv. 1-2a). Hosea wants us to feel God’s pain, that heavy, empty, silent pain of the parent whose child has no idea how loved she is.
I stand in the hospital room of the teenager who, in a desperate act, has ingested a handful of pills from a medicine cabinet. In the corner sits her mother, her eyes wide open with horror and confusion, eyes that may never truly close in rest again.
I turn to the patient whose defiance fills the room like a thick fog. As her chaplain I say, “I pray today is a better day than yesterday. I pray you understand how very empty our world would be without you. I pray you know deep in your bones that you are loved.”
Who in your world needs to know they are deeply loved? Is that person you?
Our Loving Parent, give us courage to speak hope into despair and wholeness into brokenness. May we all feel deeply in our bones how much you love us. Amen.