By Rev. Jim Innes
I don't remember much of my daughter's growing years. I feel a lot of grief around that.
As I say that, I'm very aware of my granddaughter, my daughter's child. I'm not the same parent I was. For some reason, I feel more present. I also don't have to change diapers.
Where was my head at when I was younger? When I look at my children's photos, I don't even remember the name of the friends they had around them. When I look at their faces, I feel regretfully sad because I see an innocence I took for granted, and a piece of their lives that I underappreciated.
I missed something as a man, as a father. And as I think back, I can remember moments when, as a 'not-in-the-home Father,' I was afflicted by what the divorce meant to them. And not only to them but, as I recall, my heart broke every time I dropped them off in the driveway.
My memories as a father were not all troubled. There were many brilliant moments. Nonetheless, what seems to be goading me is the question, "where was my mind, where was my heart, my attention, my focus?"
Indeed, over the years, we all become different people. We live past our pains and experiences to either pass or fail at becoming more of who we are. This maturing process is, in my mind, about the search for a deep and abiding connection to others. It is a search to give and receive selfless love. And it is a journey taking us through the brambles of giving and receiving forgiveness.
When I look back, I sometimes strongly feel that I'd have lived it differently given the opportunity. But I can only say that as I look back with the sensibilities that have since grown. So, regret is only as useful as its humility. And all I can do, all any of us can do, is pay it forward.
The word that comes to my mind is 'redemption.' A big word in theological circles. And an even more significant life experience. For me, redemption, most simply put, means getting another chance. It is life-changing, and, very importantly, it is purposeful.
A fresh wave of awareness packages our redemption. It's not about the way it was, but about the way it can be. Such renewal builds upon wisdom earned, and forgiveness received and leads to a course of action. As this action becomes clear, we discover it is often about renovation or rebuilding. And, some instances of redemption we always remember as starting from the beginning again.
Martin Buber wisely remarked about this redemption: "We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves."
Such insight can be, in my experience, an illuminating moment of hard truth. And, often, we stumble upon it. One day the scales drop from our eyes, our hearts rise, and we know what has happened because we sense a renewed vitality, a desire to live more fully.
Redemption is a soulful imprint pressing us to live in a new direction. But make no overly dramatic fuss about it. We must avoid the desire to build a new stone altar. Redemption is not a one-time event. Even the once redeemed things may need further saving as we and the world around us mature.
May redeeming moments of clarity fill your Lenten journey! I can only trust that my redeemed parental journey will guide my relationship with my granddaughter.
Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of the Regional Ministry of South Huron.
(Featured photo: Omar Rodriguez/Unsplash)