Saturday, December 22, 2012

Letter to Daughter Who is on a Reflective Retreat

Dear Emily,

You are now well into the second half of your college career, and we are all so proud of you. It has been one of the great privileges of my life to be with you from the very beginning and to watch you turn into the woman you are today. You have changed considerably from the little girl you once were.

When you were only four or five years old, you were extremely outgoing and upbeat. We have videos of you exuberantly acting out make-believe stories and hamming it up for the camera. You were always willing to try something new, and you very rarely complained.

Much of that little girl remains today. As one might expect, your temperament is more reserved that it was back then, but you are still very upbeat and determined. As your father I am particularly pleased that you are a "doer." The active part of the young Emily continues today, but in a more mature form. College has afforded you many opportunities, and you have jumped at a great number of them. Life is, in a very real sense, a series of choices and chances that we either take or let pass. You are the kind of person who gets involved and lets very little pass you by. While at Holy Cross, you have been involved in choir, the newspaper, internships, service projects, residential life, and retreats like the one you are on today. You are taking advantage of so much that life has to offer.

Which brings me to another change. The little girl you once were could not have been the thoughtful, contemplative, and spiritually grounded person that you are today. This is something that takes maturity. It takes time to acquire the perspective to see the world as a whole and yourself in the world, and only then is a more mature form of introspection and appreciation possible. It has been wonderful to watch you develop and nurture this side of your personality and life, too.

As I think of you now, I am struck by the balance you are beginning to achieve in your life. I believe the most valuable and meaningful life is a mix of action and thought, creation and contemplation. Each of these impulses has intrinsic value, but a life that does not include both in good measure cannot be as fulfilling and productive as one that is tipped exclusively in one direction or the other. It is clear to me that you share this view and give both these halves of your personality the attention they deserve.

I am so proud to be your father and so fortunate to be able to watch your life unfold. Enjoy your retreat.



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