This was a letter penned some seven years ago on the arrival of  a very special little girl to a very special family – that of my colleague and friend, Graeme. I ‘publish’ it with their permission as I think it can serve as an important reminder to us all about life, what is important, and the gift of perspective. A lot has happened in the intervening seven years and so maybe a ‘reminder’ would be a good thing (for all of us)?

RebeccaHi there Rebecca,

Big day for you today…dedications and parties, lots of people, sweets, laughter, hugs and presents and all kinds of stuff. Wow! I guess it is a big day for not only you but also for all of us who get to pause and celebrate your life and this special moment. And while this doesn’t make much sense for you here and now, I am confident that one day it will. But for that, you will have to be patient, which is not a bad thing at all.

Just last night Tamryn said to me, “Hey Dad…do you know how to be wise?”
“No” I replied, “but no doubt you are about to tell me”
“Sure” she said, “Just think of something stupid to say, something really stupid…and then say the opposite”

Well I don’t know so much about that Rebecca, but I do know that you are part of a family that is intent on growing in the ‘grace of wisdom’. This is not always an easy pursuit and certainly one that seems to take a long time. In fact, the truth of it is that it seems to be a journey ‘without end’. But, I am sure that one day, as you get to reflect on the foresight that initiated the rituals of this gathering today, and that invited around you the very people that surround you right now, that as you envisage today, and the many layers of life and love that have since covered it, you will be deeply grateful and a bit wiser for it.

You have arrived as a very special gift to a very special family. A family that really love you and will always cherish you. And while you have already experienced this, as you grow older you will come to appreciate and understand it all so much better. Such love – as enfolds you today, will not only stay with you but will imprint you forever.

I think if I were to say anything to you today it would be to pass on something that was once a ‘gift’ to me many years ago. A bit of wisdom (though not of the Tamryn kind mind you!) that has marked my understanding of life.

And this is it: Remember that life is a journey.

Yours has just begun but as with all journeys, there are those markers, those special occasions that we put down in order to recall, remember and celebrate. Some are deliberate and we choose them, others are not – and they choose us; some bring smiles and laughter; others only offer tears and sorrow. Each important, each different, but all of which invite learning and befriend wisdom. This is one of those markers – a joyous one, but in time you will both create and be given, many of your own. The first day at school, your passage into high school, the first boyfriend and that first kiss (this will happen in spite of what your Mom and Dad think and most likely a lot sooner than they anticipate …but don’t worry about them on this…trust me, its just a ‘parent thing’ and somehow parents get all weird on this subject); There will also come the time when you get to spread your wings and explore this amazing planet of ours – only to discover that it is fact a very small world, one that rewards the explorer.

But I am getting ahead of myself and so let me stop in order that your Mom and Dad can regroup after the reminder about the inevitability of that boyfriend and the goodies that accompany that reality!

Rebecca, here’s the thing: not only is life a journey…but, it is a journey shared.

Today, we are all sharing in your journey and there will be many others who will do so the longer the journey lasts. None of us know the length of our respective journeys and that is why we need to live, love and in so doing hopefully leave a legacy. You have already enriched our collective journey in so many amazing ways. We anticipate with great delight the prospect of sharing in your journey and so our prayer for you, with you, is that you may grow in grace.

Rebecca, never be afraid to learn and love; to explore and question. Don’t be afraid of the light or the dark and as you make your own path and journey, know that you are loved and that you are not alone, ever.

Mom and Dad, Amy and Hannah, hold Rebecca tightly…and then tighter still. But also, each in your own way, prepare to let her go – comforted in the knowledge that the ‘grip’ never lessens, it only changes.

To Rebecca…

Keith, Vicky, Keegan, Tamryn & Sipho…fellow hitchhikers.  

(May 2006)

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