This morning a picture from my facebook feed popped up: A picture of you and I hours after your birth. I realized that I couldn't remember what those first few days were like. As I sat down to write your birthday letter, I re-read the letters I wrote you from last year. I can't remember which nuances in your personality have been apparent since birth and which ones have just sprouted up. And Lily, you've grown sure (nearly two inches in just a few short months) and changed quite a bit, but you are still the same beautiful, independent firecracker you've been since birth.
You are still fierce and creative and wise and soulful and funny and sensitive and bold and cautious. You sing at the top of your lungs and constantly dance around rooms. You love stories - audiobooks, picture books, chapter books and movies and fairytales. You love to color and paint. You draw wonderful pictures. Your feelings are easily hurt and you love to always be first. You love rainbows and fairies, princesses and unicorns. But, lately you seem to be learning a little more just how the world works and just exactly how you fit in. Each new experience buffs your edges and softens you – from wild and reckless to smooth and refined.
I remember, so clearly, standing in a phone booth somewhere in Dublin, Ireland, the last days into my semester long study abroad stint. The phone connection was static-y, but I was on the phone with your grandfather. We were talking logistics of the pick-up at the airport in Los Angeles. I made an off-hand comments that my time abroad had changed me. "I was changed," I boldly said. He laughed and said that I could not ever change. He claimed that we never change, we are always the same.
That comment has always stuck with me – because, Lily, we do change. We evolve. We grow. That is part of God’s great design. Hebrews 13:8 say “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” He is the only one to stay the same, but we change. It's human. Even mountains move with time, and the rockiest of boulders become smooth from sand and wind and water. Part of me aches to keep your edges in their purest form. They’re a part of you, the spikes on your cactus, and a portion of me wishes the world – the culture pressures and social nuances and the sandy hourglass – could never file down your spikes. But, I know that change is inevitable.
I once read that, when Michelangelo was asked how he managed to sculpt such beautiful creations, he replied: “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” And I suppose that’s the beauty of it all, Lily. Your father and I aren’t really the sculptors at all. Our statues have been created by something bigger than us, and our job is to withstand the chiseling – firm enough to stand, soft enough to be carved.
I see these attributes in you now, five beautiful years around the sun. You are marble, Lily. You swirl with strength and sensitivity, with steadiness and flexibility. And someday, you are going to make a beautiful statue – even despite the rusty, imperfect tools your father and I are working with. You’ll stand tall and beautiful, a house for whatever light you choose to shine.
I love you more than all stars in the sky and all the water in the oceans.