Do you know that you’re holy?

PW and I have been attending graduation ceremonies in even-numbered years since 2000. Tonight, GForce graduates from high school. It’s the ninth graduation we’ve attended since 2000. That a lot of crossing overs!

Those of us who are able, thanks to good health or availability or both, are gathering to celebrate this crossing of a threshold. Stories spill out of us. We can’t even contain them.

I have never been one of those parents who wanted to freeze my child at a particular age, or to stop time, or to wish I could turn back the clock. However, I will admit to a fleeting moment of what I can only describe as anticipatory nostalgia.

When GForce was a baby, she had an infectious smile. I suspect most, if not all, parents feels this way. A baby’s smile is like a laser that cuts through the fog of parental sleep-deprivation and confusion. For me, the smile is an infant’s first crossing over from the blob of need phase to becoming a relatable human being.

gums and toes

I was besotted by GForce’s toothless grin. I’d stare at it, and when she wasn’t smiling I’d stare at this photo of her. And my recurring thought was, “Man, teeth are going to RUIN that smile.”

Yes, I actually thought that. One day, I said it out loud, to no one at all. But the act of hearing the words hanging in the air, as opposed to inside my head, was like a bucket of cold water. I could finally hear how ridiculous it was to want her to remain a tiny toothless infant.

I’ve never thought of GForce as “my baby.” I don’t know why. Maybe by the time I’d given birth in my late 30s, I’d had Sweet Honey in the Rock’s version of the Gibran poem, “On Children” embedded in my brain.

I have always felt like GForce chose me to bring her into the world. This notion has gotten me through some long nights where I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. It’s felt like a buoy and a first place blue ribbon and an honorary degree, all at the same time.

As this day approached, one of my favorite singer/songwriters released a new album. I couldn’t have hoped for better. Thank you, Kris Delmhorst, for giving me the perfect song to accompany this ninth graduation in the past 15 years.2013-08-05 06.11.01

Every time I have listened to Delmhorst’s song “Homeless” over the past month, I have gotten that catch in my throat, in my heart, when she sings the question, “Do you know that you’re holy?”

The first time I heard it, I was making dinner. I wasn’t following along with the lyrics; they were floating out over the stove. I never saw it coming, this question, “Do you know that you’re holy?” It nearly buckled my knees. Tears fell into the clam sauce I was stirring.

My goal as a parent is for each of my daughters to be able to hear that question and to be able to sing back some kind of “Yes.” Or even a “Maybe.” Or “I want to.” And when they can’t answer that question, I hope they have communities of people they can call on to remind them. And if not, they can always call home. Or look up.

by Kris Delmhorst

The silence & the sea
Who you’re supposed to be
When the faces on the page and the faces in the mirror look the same
The cradle & the crutch
It’s supposed to hurt this much
When the highways turn to roads into streets into alleys
Then at last into paths you can’t get through

Do you know that you’re homeless
Do you know that you’re lonely
Do you know that you’re only passing through?

Years roll along
Sorrow turns to song
And your tears flow like rain into streams into rivers
That at last find their path to the sea

Do you know that we’re homeless
Do you know that we’re lonely
Do you know that we’re only passing through?

Do you know that you’re holy
Do you know that I love you
Do you know that above you is blue?
Do you?


5 responses to “Do you know that you’re holy?

  1. Blessings, dear Joy. It doesn’t get any better, AND it doesn’t go away either. I’m old and I know! LOVE, Betsy

  2. Marlene Krueger

    I admit I was one of those mothers that wanted her children to either slow down in their growing or stop for awhile, maybe a year or two and let us as a family enjoy this time that we’ll never get back again. My children couldn’t, didn’t want to stop. They were enjoying their growing up years and their leaving home times.

    Then I had grandchildren and I have asked the same of them because time seems to be flying faster than ever now. My second granddaughter said to me “I have tried, Nonna, but I can’t seem to stop growing.” Of course that’s the way life is meant to be. It doesn’t slow down for any of us. Time marches on. I can look at the pictures, though, and remember.

  3. Beautiful.

  4. I have only one daughter. Her name, appropriately is JOY. You, that precious daughter, gift my life each day. When Grace was born I remember saying to a friend, “How am I so blessed to have Grace and Joy in my life continually.” Thank you for all you are to us. Thank you for Grace and what she is. Our wonderful visit with Pam was bittersweet–wonderful to be with her, yet yearning for you and the girls.We’ll be holding all of you in our hearts tonight as Grace finishes high school and moves toward a wonderful future. Do you know that I love you? Well, I do. Words are useless when I want to say how much you mean to us. You are truly our JOY..

  5. I love you, Barb! You are such a kind and loving mother, wife and friend. Joy, I am so thankful that you are in my family and that Grace has been such an awesome kid to watch grow and make her way in this world!!! I’m a lucky tia!!!


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