Liturgy for the End of Weaning

Lord of all life,
You knit this little one
Within the secret place,
Wove in my weary, waiting body
Each fibre of her being, as
Over nine long months,
Two hearts within my frame
Joined to beat as one.
You supplied her every need through me
By some strange alchemy of grace.
 
And then the first great parting;
A tiny heart began to beat alone
Beyond the womb’s embrace. 
Yet you provided still;
Made me once more a channel
Of your common grace,
As at my breast 
Her eager mouth gaped in
Uncomplicated faith.
 
We learned together,
She and I, without a word.
A clunky choreography,
Becoming second nature;
Building an unequal bond,
A sanctuary of skin on skin, where,
Through watches of the night
She drifted off to milk-drunk sleep
As I, delirious,
Bore within an aching frame
The price of infant peace.
 
Our girl is older now.
The newborn days are gone.
By your grace she smiles,
Mouths new words,
Finds her eager feet;
Horizons rushing ever out
From that warm place
In which I first beheld
Her open, trusting face;
Where she first sensed
Instinctively 
An unconditional embrace.
 
And now a second parting;
Less sudden than the first,
Less overwhelming.
As independence grows,
As days of weaning reach their end,
A milestone of strange grief;
The passing of a time when
Everything she needed 
My willing body found 
A ready way to give.
 
The path is steeper now.
Lord grant us wisdom,
Where love is less simple;
Where our frail bodies fail
To readily supply 
More sophisticated needs.
Where the world’s wounds are
Deeper than grazed knees,
And harder now to heal;
Where you alone must be
O Lord
Her place of perfect peace.
 
Lord we sense how even now
These small goodbyes
Must do their teaching work.
Prepare our hearts we pray,
In each small letting-go,
For the joy-tinged pain
Of greater parting still to come;
That bittersweet day when,
If it be your will
This not-so-little one,
Clasping all that we have sought to teach,
And all our eager hearts could give,
Shall leave,
And cleave,
And, in apprehensive love,
Set out to make another home.