When we were expecting our first grandchild, a friend put his arm around my shoulder and solemnly said, “John, you are about to experience the only truly free lunch.” He was right.

From the vantage point of years, we grandparents understand that what we thought were crises were not so serious after all and that whether or not the children ate their Brussels sprouts had nothing to do with the kind of people they turned out to be. Nor am I the first to observe that grandchildren grow quickly. One day you’re reading a toddler a story and the next thing you know she’s looking you in the eye and asking if you remember the Vietnam War.

It was with this sense of time passing that our family gathered recently for the confirmation of our granddaughter Eleanor. At the beginning of her confirmation class, her father had told me that Eleanor wasn’t certain that she wanted to join the church; in fact, she wasn’t certain that she believed in God. I assured him that her concerns were typical and not inappropriate. After eight months of weekly classes, retreats, and mission trips, however, Eleanor told me that she loved her confirmation class experience and had decided to declare her faith and become a member of the congregation.