So in what seems like a heart beat, my eldest daughter finishes high school today. It does seem like yesterday when she started school.
From 5 to 16 in 60 seconds.
Whilst many of my friends are discovering that stage of life where their kids all start to go to school, having had our kids young, we are starting the 'not long until they leave school' period.
So I'm a jumble of feelings in the midst of that, which is normal I think.
I'm proud of my daughter who is emerging as beautiful person inside and out. Finding her own faith, and exploring her future with Jesus, with the occasional consult with her parents (or more a case letting us find out from facebook what she is planning with her life ;-). A miracle in our secular post-christian/post-church wasteland here in London.
Then I am grateful to God for getting us her this far, and to this place in life, with all we have been through as a family. And I'm nervous for her future as she steps up and out further into the life she is going to make away from us.
I still remember the day I collected her from the maternity wing of the hospital. Holding her in her car seat, my heart almost exploding with love and a deep sense of loss. The loss because in that moment I knew my role was to help her leave. I found myself praying over her and promising to love her, and help her grow and leave.
That 'loss' was palpable, eschatological. In my baby I could see what was to come, and my future was to help her 'go'. Yet today I have a very different feeling, of arrival, of the in breaking of something wonderful, of having gained and received something in my life. The promise of that prayer in that car park 16 years ago, being fulfilled.
And then I have other feelings. The strange experience of seeing my daughter leave school in a sunny June day, just as I did. I can't help but see this day through my own 16 year old memories. It was like yesterday for me. And again in that, I see my past and my present and my future, and something of the Kingdom and my life in Christ.
Then there is the fear that I have done some damage and it's too late to catch up with more time, more involvement, more patience, more love, and to make up for the deficiencies I brought to bear in her 16 years.
But I console myself with the fact that as a Father it's my job to love imperfectly, and I've given my daughter plenty to need to rely on her heavenly Father for. I figure that if she doesn't need prayer from others about my deficiencies and their affects on her, I haven't done my job properly :-).
And there is something comforting in that. That as I have loved imperfectly, my daughters love for the same Jesus I came to know aged 17, is the Jesus who transforms our love for each other.
And thinking about that makes me very excited to see what happens next with Anna Grace Clark (sorry we didn't give you 4 names like your siblings btw ;-). For anyone interested in those chronicles keep your eye on http://www.facebook.com/annagraceclark, I know I will be.