Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is one of those books I try to pick up about once or twice a month. Gibran’s profound insights into topics such as joy and sorrow, death and beauty leave me feeling inspired. I especially loved his thoughts on raising children.
The first time I saw this was when I was a few weeks pregnant. My husband and I were so excited by it we thought we should frame it and look at it daily as we embarked on the adventure of parenthood. After losing the baby in December to an early miscarriage I still return to these words in the hopes that with each time I look at them I’ll be able to live them when the time comes. I feel I owe it to my future children to remember that they do not belong to me simply because I raised them. I love the imagery of being a bow and my child the arrow. I will do my best be strong, yet flexible. I will aim in the direction that feels right. But once the arrow has been released it will fly on its own.
Enjoy these words and please comment on what they mean to you, especially if you are parent already.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Marianna, Kahlil’s Sister. Painting by Kahlil Gibran