Occasionally on the blog, someone at church shares something that means a lot to them:
Walking Away by Cecil Day Lewis
It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.
I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
Perhaps this is a good time of the year, “a sunny day with leaves just turning”, to share C. Day Lewis’s poem, Walking Away, as he puzzles over the “scorching ordeal” he feels on seeing his son drift like a “half-fledged thing set free” behind a scatter of children towards selfhood. We’ve seen it, and felt it, haven’t we, as we left our five year olds at the school gate for the first time, “that hesitant figure, eddying away like a winged seed, loosed from its parent stem.” Sad isn’t it?
Then later we see them off to college or university, or out into the world of business, or say goodbye at the train station as they go for voluntary service overseas, and we should be so happy for them as they walk away from us, and yet we are sad.
Later still they fall in love, and perhaps the wedding vows; the tissues really are at the ready then. I always cry at weddings. Like C. Day Lewis I have never understood the “small scorching ordeals which fires one’s irresolute clay” So perhaps it is God showing us humans how “selfhood begins with walking away and love is proved in walking away”