Sunday, April 6, 2014

Learning to Fly

Last summer I was looking out our kitchen window and had the chance to watch what looked liked a momma bird teaching her baby bird to fly. They were just perched on the fence when Momma bird would take off, fly out and back landing on the fence about five feet from the baby. The baby bird would then just look at the momma bird and hop down the fence line and stop next to Momma. Momma bird would just look at the baby bird and then repeat the process, and the baby bird would just hop down the fence and stop next to Momma. Momma bird must have done this at least three times when she took off and flew to a tree about five feet away. The baby bird just sat on the fence and chirped. I found myself trying to root on the baby bird: "Come on, you can do it--fly." The baby finally stretched his wings and flapped a couple of times and then flew over to the momma. That little five-foot flight had just opened a new world to that baby bird. I'm sure it was not much longer until the baby bird was out of the nest.

As I think about that scene playing out, I realize it is not much different than us as parents. From the time our children are born, we take steps to prepare them to leave our nest and fly out into the world on their own. We often use terms like, "leave the nest" or "they are empty nesters" to describe the process. There are times that we doubt ourselves and wonder if they are ever going to get it. Why are they content to just hop when they have the ability to fly? Then one day, they spread those wings and are gone, and you believe that they are set on a trajectory for their life, when they make a decision that you just did not see coming.

That is what we have experienced with Shane the past few weeks. For several years now, we thought that Shane would follow his brother into the pro bike racing circuit. He had already taken the first step by signing a contract with a pro team. However, after a few months, Shane decided that pro racing was not for him, at this point in his life. I am not going to tell the story here. You can read Shane's very well-written blog on how he arrived at his decision at his blog Shane Meets World.

I will admit being a little surprised at his decision, but since being diagnosed with cancer, I have told the boys to find something they really enjoy doing so that they look forward to going to work. As I read Shane's blog, I was impressed at how he sought wise counsel from his friends and family. He also prayed and asked God for His guidance. He is spreading those wings on his own. As I read through his blog, I realized that DeLayne and I invested 12 years in Shane the baseball player, 5 years in Shane the cyclist, but we have invested 23 years in Shane the man. Shane and I spent a lot of time together during those years, and I was given an opportunity not afforded to many fathers; I was able to watch my son grow from a boy into a young man.

Just after the first of the year, Shane had gone out for a bike ride. When he got home, he talked me into for going out for a short ride with him. As we rode, I noticed that Shane would position himself to block me from the wind, and I began to realize that we had crossed a threshold into a new chapter in life: The protector had become the protected.

We are very proud of Shane and are excited to see where he goes from here.

Shane has always enjoyed working outside and with his hands. He also is very smart and has a Degree from Texas A&M in Turfgrass Management. We were not at all surprised when he called and told us he had been hired by the Garden of the Gods Club as a greenskeeper. That looks like a pretty nice office view and a good place to fly.