Your children are not your children…

I’m conducting a choir of undergrad women this fall, and one of the pieces we’re doing is a setting of Kahlil Gibran’s “On Children.” I know Gibran is kind of cliche (or I guess he was 30 years ago, because no one seems to have heard of him now), but I read them the text before we started and it was sort of scary and beautiful to see them turn it over in their heads–there was this silence in the room, and this quiet wild light in a bunch of eyes. Then, of course, the silence broke into half-jokes about, “man, my parents will hate this song!” and such, but it’s their favorite piece in the whole concert. (“your children are not your children…they come through you, but they are not from you, and though they are with you, they belong not to you. You can give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You can house their bodies, but not their souls, for their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams…” and so forth.) They sing it like it’s a big picket sign they are holding up on a protest march or something, this group of affluent privileged young women-who-still-think-of-themselves-as-girls-but-are-just-on-the-cusp-of-realizing…it’s why I so want to work with this age group in the long haul…

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