Joe and I had a big week last week. Friday, almost two weeks ago, our son and his precious wife gave us an 8 pound, 5 ounce grandson, 21 ½ inches long. (I told Mary Katherine she didn’t have to bring her son into the world half-grown.) Because, after twenty hours of labor, she had to have a C-Section, and her mom was there, I waited until she was settled at home, and—at their invitation—I went to Lexington,
Virginia, to make my acquaintance with Holt Wilder Snead. Of course he is beautiful—he looks just like his daddy!
Birth and death—two occasions to recalibrate.
Calibrate: to adjust precisely for a particular function; to measure precisely; especially : to measure against a standard
When we recalibrate, we check ourselves against the standard, synchronize our watches, so to speak—we don’t take our temperature with a thermometer stuck on 97 degrees.
On Thursday, Joe and I attended a memorial service for a high school classmate of his who died and was interred at Arlington Memorial Cemetery, our national cemetery across the river from D.C., the burial place of multitudes of our military. Lew was a retired rear admiral. The memorial service was at their long-time church where he had served as an elder. The large sanctuary was packed, many of his Naval Academy classmates were there, and many who had served with him during his distinguished career—tells you the kind of guy he was. In the photo display, we saw a picture of a uniformed leader on the deck of a massive warship and a grandpa, laughing and cuddling with a pile of kids. That was Lew.
It was a beautiful service—I love the Presbyterian funeral service. Many of you know Joe grew up Presbyterian, and I found a meaningful relationship with God in that tradition. Their funeral is called: a Celebration of the Resurrection, and they are never sad because their focus is on our eternal life. Hence, it is more a graduation, a passing on to larger life, real life. Reunions with loved ones who’ve gone before. Freedom from pain. Joy unspeakable and full of glory. Something to look forward to. One of Lew’s sons is a musician, and he led a parade of grandchildren from four years old to teenagers to the front of the sanctuary where they sang: “I’ll Fly Away.” And the congregation joined in the chorus: “I’ll fly away, o glory, I’ll fly away. Hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away.” We said farewell to a father whose legacy of faith carried down to the third generation, and their pastor urged us to take this time, at the end of a well-lived life, to re-calibrate our own lives. To realize the sands of time continually flow through the hourglass of our own mortality, the time will come when we will all face our Maker, and to prepare for that.
After the church served a lovely lunch, we reconvened at Arlington for the military funeral. My dad was buried at Arlington, and I know of no more meaningful service that the one we give our fallen heroes. The casket is placed on a horse-drawn wagon, and we walked behind that caisson to his final resting place. After a brief graveside ceremony, and a 21-gun salute, three volleys from seven guns, a young officer presents a flag to the next of kin, his wife, Julia.
As parents we face a recalibration every fall as our kids start a new school year. Did we send them out from the safety of our homes with love enough, with moral integrity enough, with faith enough to face the choices they will make this year? The years our children remain under our instruction are short and pass quickly. Make the most of it moms. Hug them, kiss them, teach them. Play with them, correct them, and be a role model for them. When we do come face to face with our Maker, He will judge us for what we have done to the least of these, our little ones.
The saving grace for all of us miserable failures, is that He will help us every step of the way if we ask him. Recalibrate today. Bring your struggles to MOPS and let us help you with our burdens, and God help us all to be better parents!
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