The Empty Nest
There once was a bird, high up in a tree, sitting on a cluster of eggs in her nest. She remained there, not eating, just warming her eggs and waiting for them to hatch. Then one day the eggs hatched! The babies needed caring for: cleaning, protecting and feeding. Predators were eyeing off the little ones with hungry eyes. While food was plentiful the bird still had to leave the nest to gather the food for the hungry chicks. The chicks grew, their down disappeared and feathers grew. Still the bird cared for them, she taught them how to groom themselves, how to feed and how to fly. The chicks were now fully grown young birds. One day they spread their wings and took their first tremulous glances over the edge of the nest. Then they flew! The bird gave them all the support she could. Inside she was so afraid for them, but she was also very proud. They flew around the tree many times, always coming back. The flights became greater and greater in distance and frequency and then, one day, they never came back! She had completed her task.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back.
So that you can see the place you came from with
new eyes and extra colours. And the people there
see you differently, too. Coming back to where you
started is not the same as never leaving. Terry Pratchet
Mammals (as a rule) care for their offspring. My daughter Emma, recently made the decision to leave home and move half way around the world to the United Kingdom. Her plan is to live there for at least five years. Luckily she will have assorted relatives there to keep an eye on her. I worry about her being so far away. I worry that I cannot protect her! I will miss her dreadfully. I now know how my parents must have felt when I, at 21, left New Zealand and travelled to the UK. My intention was a one year overseas trip. I stayed for 12 years! Then, I left the UK and moved to Australia. I was oblivious to my parents’ emotions, of course. I was absorbed in my upcoming adventures. I had met my future wife and we settled and married and brought up two wonderful children. My wife too, at a young age, had left her home in London and travelled a great distance to Australia. Going back even further, my mother left the UK by ship and met and married my father in New Zealand. My father’s antecedents had travelled from England to New Zealand by sailing ship. There is a force in some of us to travel and explore. When I and my wife set forth there was no Facebook or Skype. Communication was by telegram or letter. Long distance phone calls were available, but at a huge cost. We are lucky today that the world is smaller. Distance seems a little less oppressive.
We meet no ordinary people in our lives. C.S. Lewis
But how does a parent feel about the child becoming an adult and setting off on a great adventure? Well, I am terribly proud of my daughter’s independence and desire to travel and experience the world! On the one hand I am envious, on the other? Sad. We live on a God created globe and there is so much to see. Our children are born and we nurture them and teach them. We watch them slowly spread their wings. We instilled in our children a love of nature, history, science and God. We see their talents and encourage them. We spent years preparing our children for life and now they are doing exactly what we intended. They are participating in the human experience which they will pass on to their children. The circle continues.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only
to the past or present are certain to miss the future. John F Kennedy
If we look logically at this, we have done well, my wife and I. If I look emotionally at my daughters leaving, it is painful. Albeit we know it is the right thing for her to do. She has been in our lives for so long and I know she always will be. When she returns she will possibly be quite a different person. She will no longer be the child as such, but rather equals. That is the way it should be. As travel this journey of life, we experience change. My daughter will encounter so many new adventures. Whilst I have passed the middle mark of life and I look back, she is looking forward, as my wife and I once did. Life is an unpredictable thing. There is a book by Dr Seuss titled, “Oh, the Places You'll Go!” This book should be given to anyone young person as they set out on their new life’s journey. I love this book:
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy/girl who'll decide where to go… So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way! Theodor Seuss Geisel
I am very proud of my daughter, Emma. She sets forth on a journey and I know that my wife and I have prepared her. Our job is not to hold the next generation back, but rather to send them forth with confidence. God will be ever watchful and be her travelling companion. Like God, I am a proud father. I love my daughter. She will do amazing things.
Christopher wants to see fairness in the world and desires to see the doors of Christianity open to all. He has been a drama junkie for decades. He found God in the 1990’s but too often sees faith and belief being used to promote individuals doctrines. Chris enjoys reading, theatre, good food and good company. Chris loves music but can’t play a note. He has two adult children and a patient wife. He lives in Melbourne Australia.
See all previous articles by Christopher Newport