“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I heard this quote from a student speaker at my daughter’s high school graduation last evening. It was quite an event. 5000 family members packed into a local arena in town. A sea of purple and gold flooded the floor as we looked upon the next wave of graduating seniors who will depart into the world with fresh ideas, renewed energy mixed with apprehension of what the future holds.

My reason for being there in this moment was to celebrated my daughter’s next step. A gift of the quote was given to me as I walked out. I was well aware of Emerson’s quotes as I studied American literature quite intensely when I was junior in high school. I don’t recall hearing this. Maybe it was there but I was not ready to hear it yet.

How much of my life has been about what has lied behind me? How much fear and anxiety has affected my life because of what was to lie before me. Tiny matters are these things compared to what lies within me. Every situation I find myself in where I am disturbed by the past or the future where I have found freedom, a passageway out, has been when I focused on what or rather Who was within me. I was tempted to worry about my daughter’s safety as she celebrated her achievement as my mind was turned to the many stories of seniors dying on the graduation night. Of course there was no party, no drugs or alcohol that I was aware of, but just a movie with some friends which past the normal limits of bedtime. Perhaps this was a necessary expression of her moving beyond the limits of her life as it had been in the last chapter and her turning the page to the new. I put her in God’s hands and realized that letting go is an important gift we give our son’s and daughters.

I was also tempted to worry about my parent’s health. Who doesn’t when we see the parents who gave us life begin to experience the effects of aging. We worry that they will be okay. I had to let go of them as well and give them over to God’s care. To not do so is to be controlling. And do we really have that much control? It is an illusion, but a strong enough one to keep God’s grace from effectively working in the situation. So, I surrendered and I found peace. Peace enough to sleep until my daughter called me at about 2am to tell me she gotten home from the outing to her best friend’s house to spend the night. I went back to bed.

The next morning, I found the day beginning before I was ready to begin it. My son was off to school. I was off to visit my parents who had stayed at a nearby hotel. Breakfast was again an opportunity to surrender and to let go and let God. These are tiny matters – past and future- compared to what lies within us. The present moment. The place where God comes to meet with us. I am still learning to live in the moment and to discover what God is doing in me. Thank you Mr. Emerson for this quote of encouragement.

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