In digging through emails tonight from the year 2000, I stumbled on this email I sent to my mom when I really didn’t want to have anything to do with her. I’m glad to say that our relationship has long since been reconciled, but reading it tonight makes me think about how many times I hear from parents who are estranged from their children, and the great sorrow they feel.
I suspect some parents who might be reading this blog might have received emails like the one below from their own children. I hope my story can give them some hope. To parents who read this, I urge you to always place your trust in God that, (borrowing from St. Paul and St. Julian of Norwich), “in the fullness of time, all will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”
I read this letter tonight with joy that comes from realizing that this is far in the past. I now know that God has redeemed all of the pain surrounding this email. It was a bit sad to read it tonight, but I also realize that part of the journey of my spiritual life–and indeed my parents’ spiritual life–needed to go through this particular valley.
I’m recalling right now the strange, but poetically beautiful turn of phrase in Pope Francis’s first encyclical. He writes that Abraham’s faith was rooted in a “memory of the future.”
To parents who are estranged with their children, I always share one message: cling to hope and faith, and as Pope Francis urges us: remember the future! Romans 8:28 must be constantly on our minds: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” And with the words of St. Pope John Paul II, I say, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song!”
It is good for parents to know those words of St. Pope John Paul II were first uttered by St. Augustine, that great patron saint of chastity who said to God, “give me chastity–but not yet!” Parents, take hope that he was brought into the Church in large part through the prayers and tears of his mother, St. Monica!
Read this…and don’t weep. Rather, have joy that the Prodigal Son has come home, and has been reconciled with his Heavenly Father.
And his mom and dad.
I suppose it’s obvious that there are issues unresolved regarding my relationship with you, thus the reason for no communication. I do not desire at this time to open up a dialogue about these things, but since you sent me an email, I feel I need to respond. I don’t really even want to send this email,and would ask that you refrain from responding, and asking why I might be feeling this way or what I’m thinking. It is only fair that I be honest with you, though undoubtedly it will hurt, and the truth is that I don’t desire much interaction right now at all. Lunch is not something I would want to do, and would only do it out of a sense of familial obligation. These feelings, I feel I must be honest, are primarily towards you, not to dad. There is much that I have thought and processed and am continuing to work through. At some point this year, I will express my thoughts/feelings, etc. to you. I ask that you please be patient, and understand that I am committed to reconciling our relationship, but in the right time and in the right manner.
In the meantime, I don’t really have a desire to have much interaction at all with you. I know those words will most likely hurt a little, but I owe it to you to be honest. It has been a long time since I have communicated with you, and you are owed an explanation.
Please don’t respond to this. It may not make sense, but I don’t want to hear from you about this, and I’ll delete any message I get. I suspect that’s difficult, but I need to be honest with you. I don’t really ever want to get an email from you in the foreseeable future–emailing is something which is very personal and important to me, and because of the unresolved issues between us, I don’t really want to see any messages. It is an invasion into a place I don’t want you to be.
Having said all that, I want you to know that I am close to reaching a point where I will communicate my thoughts and feelings with you. I do not know what reconciliation will look like, but it will take place, as I said, sometime this year. I’m committed to that.
I can understand if you feel you want to communicate something to me. If you feel you need to, you can do it through one of my brothers, but please don’t write a letter.
Over a decade later, here is a picture of joy, a moment captured on the last day of filming of Desire of the Everlasting Hills, where I share the great good God has done in my life. Parents, I say cling to hope, and cling to Jesus, the Desire of the Everlasting Hills, trusting that He will bring your child home, just like he did me.