Reflecting on Khalil Gibran’s concept of children

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MY LIVING ARROW. Nathaniel was two years and five months old in this picture.

I came across Khalil Gibran’s essay on children back in my elementary years when it was pasted by my father in the inner cover of our family photo album. It was my first encounter with his writings and I was amazed at the wisdom his words are carrying. I was able to get a copy of his book later on and I could read his essays over and over again without feeling bored because it’s like I’m reading a fresh content each time.

Reading Gibran’s works require a deeper sense of understanding and a change of heart because his was a kind of prophetic mandate to enlighten those who are willing to accept the offer. His concept of children is a declaration of truth and as a better version of what it’s all about. Allow me then, if you may, to quote Gibran’s essay on children:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the House of Tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Gibran is gifted with eyes that can see beyond the surface—his mind. The way he reveals the machinery of his consciousness belongs to the level that is transcendental, deeply spiritual, and truth-oriented.  The following are my own interpretation based on Gibran’s concept of children:

PARENTS ARE THE STEWARDS, NOT THE OWNERS OF THEIR CHILDREN

As a parent, you may find it unacceptable or tough. But it’s true. Gibran is trying to introduce you to the highest form of understanding by accepting the fact that your children belongs to the Almighty Creator of all things. You don’t own your children but, as a parent, you are tasked to commit and to take the responsibility of raising them in the way and instruction of the Supreme Being.

Gibran was clearly implying that parenthood is not a private party that parents can conduct any way they want but rather, as a trust from the Lord. Your children are on loan to you from God. Parenting is your special calling.

THE METAPHOR OF THE ARCHER AND THE ARROWS

Gibran used a simple metaphor of the archer and the arrow to give a clearer picture of what he’s trying to convey about the parent-child relationship: children are like arrows fired into the air from the archer’s hands. Your job as a parent, therefore, is not to keep your children dependent upon you all the time but to raise them in the way they were purposed to become. You’re raising children to leave, not to stay with you forever.

Your children, as they journey through life, will go places you will never go. They will also be doing things you will never do. And like arrows in the hand of the warrior, your children will fly from your hands one day hoping they’ll hit the mark. But even if they missed, you may still find comfort in thinking that they were all serving a purpose.

THE METAPHOR OF THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW

In my own interpretation, Gibran’s metaphor of the House of Tomorrow is simply the finding of the way back to Paradise, to the Kingdom. It is a place for restoration of an individual’s rightful connections as well as the reclamation of his place in the natural order of things. Gibran tells about the fate of the parents, who cannot visit the House of Tomorrow where their children are destined to be, because in that particular place they will cease to become parents to their children but as creatures equal to each other.

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