I read somewhere a few years ago the two greatest things we can give our children are “roots and wings.” By “roots” the writer meant a foundation for building a life, or that which provides a stable anchor against life’s challenges and storms. By “wings” he meant a life’s vision and the courage to fulfill one’s life’s calling. Both roots and wings are necessary for one to live well. The two go hand in hand.
I am part of that generation called the “Baby Boomers,” the post-WWII generation born from 1946 to 1964. Sadly, it seems, we, as a generation, dropped the ball somewhere along the way. Many (or most) of those of the generations following us, known as Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millenniums, seem to be woefully lacking when it comes to “roots and wings.” I suppose there are many reasons.
The United States of America came out of World War II as the undisputed champion of the world. And as she flexed her economic muscles, more people made more money faster than at any other time in the history of mankind. Those of the WWII Generation made it look easy; but having seen the hardships of the Great Depression, they worked long and hard, and were committed to providing a better life for their families.
I remember my mother, when stressing the importance of a college education, saying, over and over again, “I don’t want you to have to work as hard as your father did.”
The prosperity of the post WWII era made life easier for us Baby Boomers. In some ways, that was not a good thing. We, in turn, attempted to make it easier for the next generation.
For the Baby Boomers, there was an expectation for us to do as well as our parents. The next generation came along and felt entitled to live as well as their parents.
So, we are left with the cold reality that two generations made it too easy for the generations which followed.
Here’s a haunting quote: “Men work hard to make money, so their sons won’t have to endure the hardships that made men out of their fathers.”
And here’s something else to consider. They say there are no atheists in foxholes. I would submit there are fewer atheists when thousands and thousands of mothers and fathers have sons who are in foxholes.
Those of the WWII Generation came out of the war with a renewed vision of God. I would submit our mothers and fathers believed in God because they “knew” God. They had “experienced” God. Sadly, too many of my generation, the Baby Boomers, came to believe in God because their parents believed in God. That’s called “running on someone else’s gasoline.” What do you tell the next generation about God when you have been running on someone else’s gasoline?
I once had a dear friend, now deceased, whose daughter, after finishing college; married a young man from Peru. She had grown up Baptist. He had grown up Catholic. Over the years, they seemed to enjoy a solid marriage, but they never could find any common religious ground from which to teach their children.
“They tried for years to settle on a church to take the kids and never could,” he once lamented to me. “So, the children have always seemed to be adrift, religiously speaking.”
“So they have no spiritual roots,” I offered. “No spiritual roots,” he said sadly, as he shook his head. I felt a deep sadness for my friend.
It was the greatest of all teachers who said:
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
You know, solid foundations and deep roots have a lot in common. They are essential in navigating the storms of one’s life.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.
Roots and wings. They are essentials in building a meaningful life.