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Held in the Great Embrace

As I became a mother and experienced the vulnerability, the cracked-openness and the simultaneous demand by Life to gradually release my daughter as she ventured out into the world in ever-increasing circles, I asked my mother, “How did you manage that? To let us go, to not worry too much, to not stifle us with your fears and protective instincts?”

She gave me a reply that has stayed with me, that guides, comforts and strengthens me in my mothering and my letting go. 

She said, “I pray. Every day. I pray to the Greatest Heart of All, to the Source of Life that you are protected, guided in your decisions, and held in Love and Light wherever you go.”

Below is a lovely prayer in this vein, by David Whyte. May it help you entrust your loved one(s) in that Great Embrace, so that even as they set forth, they are safe and well.

MY DAUGHTER ASLEEP

Carrying a child,
I carry a bundle
of sleeping
future appearances.
I carry
my daughter adrift
on my shoulder,
dreaming her slender
dreams
and
I carry her
beneath
the window,
watching
her moon lit
palm
open
and close
like a tiny
folded
map,
each line
a path that leads
where I can’t go,
so that I read her palm
not knowing
what I read

and
walk with her
in moon light
on the landing,
not knowing
with whom I walk,
making
invisible prayers
to go on
with her
where I can’t
go,
conversing
with so many
unknowns
that must know her
more intimately
than I do.

And so to these
unspoken shadows
and this broad night
I make
a quiet
request
to the
great parental
darkness
to hold her
when I cannot,
to comfort her
when I am gone,
to help her learn
to love
the unknown
for itself,
to take it
gladly
like
a lantern
for the way
before her,
to help her see
where ordinary
light will not help her,
where happiness has fled,
where faith
cannot reach.

My prayer tonight
for the great
and hidden symmetries
of life
to reward this
faith I have
and twin
her passages
of loneliness
with friendship,
her exiles
with home coming,
her first awkward
steps with
promised onward leaps.

May she find
in all this,
day or night,
the beautiful
centrality
of pure opposites,
may she discover
before she grows
old,
not to choose
so easily
between past
and present,
may she find
in
one or the other
her gifts
acknowledged.

And so
as I helped
to name her
I help to name
these
powers,
I bring
to life
what is needed,
I invoke
the help she’ll
want
following
those moonlit lines
into a future
uncradled
by me but
parented
by all
I call.

As she grows
away
from me,
may these life lines
grow with her,
keep her safe,
so
with my open palm
whose lines
have run before her
to make a safer way,
I hold her smooth cheek
and bless her
this night
and beyond it
and for every unknown
night to come.

MY DAUGHTER ASLEEP From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
Many Rivers Press. © David Whyte

letting-go

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