Today is Family Day in several Canadian provinces, including my home province of Ontario. On this day I’m sharing two poems from Mom, both expressions of a mother’s love for her family.
Mom initially planned to share one poem this month. Then her prose introduction evolved into a free verse poem in its own right! So I’ll post both poems, in the order in which they were written.
Both poems are written in a parent’s voice, a reflective voice that longs to trust God as children grow up and leave home. Letting go of children often isn’t easy, perhaps especially for mothers. Our oldest is only seven, so we don’t expect our children to leave our nest any time soon. But already we have moments of letting go.
Last spring my wife had one of those moments. While wading at a nearby park, our daughters suddenly decided that they wanted to walk—by themselves—out to the end of the dock. Zonya’s heart skipped a beat; our daughters don’t know how to swim. But Zonya knew what she must do. She told the two oldest to hold hands and walk carefully. Then she let them walk—by themselves—all the way out to the end of the dock…
and return safely to shore. Mission accomplished!
Then our littlest, only two and a half years old, wanted to copy her big sisters! My wife compromised: She walked with her out to the end of the dock—or almost to the end. Just before the end, their hands released. Our littlest took a few steps further on her own, turned, and walked back to her mother. She was so pleased! And as Zonya told me the story, I was proud of my wife!
Here are Mom’s poems. Enjoy!
GOD BLESS THIS ARK
I watch the van pull slowly out the drive,
All my life’s labour safely stored inside,
And think of baby Moses kept alive—
So soon our children are too old to hide.
So soon I stand alone like Jochebed,
All that I treasure moving out of sight,
And pray with mingled confidence and dread,
“Lord, have I daubed and pitched the ark just right?”
So often I have waved good-bye before,
All that I love torn from me for awhile,
And later found them safely at my door.
Could Moses’ mother hide her secret smile?
That first school day, a visit overnight,
A full time job, long trips away from home.
I wait like Miriam, prudent, out of sight,
And watch the ark bob gently on its own.
Is my ark built securely? Will it float?
Only by testing waters will we know.
Show me the time, Lord. I trust to You this boat.
For parenthood is learning to let go.
—Elaine Gingrich, October 1991
AS ARROWS FROM THE HAND
What tender arrows these
From our poor quiver sent
On such a long trajectory
Across the dizzying plains of miles and years
From the aching bow of empty arms.
How can we know they went
The course intended?
Forces beyond the archer’s goals and dreams
Propel the flight, divert the path—
Currents of time and winds of ideology.
Lost in the past the days we spent
When we squinted hard on distant noble goal,
Cradled the bow, steadied the shaking hand and heart,
Pulled taut the string
And shot our treasured shafts,
Such tender shoots,
And watched them take their wing.
What of our roots?
And were our bow and aim both true enough?
Strange weapons these to face a deadly world,
A modern world with weapons once unknown.
Strange archers too, so young, untried, untrained.
And yet we fired them forth—
Our messengers of hope
To find their way
As meteor’s flash, as flaming spears,
To fight the realms of darkness;
Bearers of light,
Resisting the false, the foe.
We trust the Target’s pull,
A magnet for the homing arrowhead.
They may forget the bow
That sprung their flight, but oh!
For archer and for arrow to remember this:
The final Target that we dare not miss.
—Elaine Gingrich, February 9, 2016
For a companion and foil to Mom’s two poems, listen to this song by Chris Christian, “Love Them While You Can,” which reminds children to love their parents—before they, too, leave their earthly home. (I own this Chris Christian LP album and listened to it just the other night, while playing Monopoly with my daughters!)
May God bless each of your families, today and always. And remember, as I often remind my daughters, “God put you in the same family so you could learn to love each other!”
For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.
And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at . Thanks!