Full of Junk –
Today is President’s Day. I wish I would’ve remembered that before this afternoon. The last few weeks have been rough weather wise. Cold, rainy, windy and our trash has piled up in the bin outside. Finally, today, it was dry enough to put the all the trash in the back of the truck and take it to the Refuse and Recycle Center. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do it before meeting with some fathers today so it sat in the back of the truck until afternoon. My truck looked like Sanford and Son. After finishing up my appointments I headed to the dump. I was almost there and thankful to get rid of the trash. Then, to my disbelieving eyes, the gates were closed and it dawned on me; “President’s Day.” It was a holiday and county employees weren’t working today. My truck would stay loaded down until tomorrow. “Grrrr!” and “Sigh.”
“Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.” Easy sentence to write a hard sentence to live. We are surrounded by many negative things which can be like anchors to our spirits. Violence, injustice, racism, sexism, bigotry, and all sorts of evil that threaten to permeate our souls. We must be careful, watchful, mindful to not allow this corruption of creation to become a part of us, absorb us, soak up our existence and make us apart of what we should be fighting against.
This morning my family gathered together to write my father’s obituary and order of service for his memorial. After a while, we took a break and I walked outside with my niece and spotted a huge Sycamore leaf. It was the biggest one at first we could see and then it became a competition on who could find the largest one of all. We searched a long time and when we were convinced we had discovered the most sizeable one we began looking for the smallest one. This was harder because we had to look under, beside and move other leaves to find the smallest. Finally, we believed we had the tiniest Sycamore leaf in the yard.
It was another busy day with people visiting, numerous phone calls, memorial service being organized, visiting the florist, and other errands. In the hustle and bustle of things, a family must do when one they love has passed it’s hard to find the peace one desires. The big things, the things which must get done are easy to find, it’s the small things; the glimpses of hope, the good memories, times when the good of a life well-lived shines in the darkness of a loved one parting.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Saint John, chapter 1
A Real Chance –
This morning our Fatherhood Engagement program hosted a Dad/Child reading event in an adjacent county. These are always a good time with a light brunch, puppet show, a reading time with Dad and the kids and a short lecture from me on the importance of fathers being involved in their child’s reading, educational development. I stress the vital role of moms and dads working together to give their child the greatest chance at their best life.
Last week I met a new client in his late 30’s who needed some guidance on connecting with a difficult child. We talked about issues he felt needed to be addressed and improved upon so he could be the dad he wanted to be. When we were wrapping up, I confirmed his cell phone number and told him; “ I have your next session set but I also text my clients to check in and make sure everything is going well.” After a moment he said to me; “I can’t read.” He said it nonchalantly and I did my best not to display any surprise but inside I was taken aback. This is one of those basic abilities most of us take for granted every day. I mentally added this to my list of issues we’d discuss and, hopefully, make a plan to solve.
I thought about this guy several times today during the reading event. I wondered how someone a few years younger than me could get through life without knowing how to read? Did he not have someone, somewhere along his life’s path who noticed and cared enough to help? The dads at our event today crawled around the floor with their kids, made paper bag puppets, sang “Ol’ Mac Donald had a farm,” and then were given the chance to read a book from the library to their children.
My hope is this event today would be a part of these kids developing not just a love of reading but a building of skills which will give them give them every advantage possible in a life that’s already hard enough.
Struggling on Father’s Day-
My heart is heavy on this Father’s day. I have a great dad who has sacrificed much for me and did his best, always, to be a good role model, showing me how to be a good man. I am thankful for the love and support he gives me.
No, my heart is heavy because of a father I know who lost his son this past week. His son, who had just graduated high school, his whole life ahead of him, gone in an instant. My heart is heavy for those men killed in Orlando, Florida a week ago. A community where fathers’ criess of brokenness and loss still fill the air. My heart is heavy for friends and others I know whose fathers have died, leaving a hole no one else can fill. My heart is heavy for the men in my Incarcerated Dad’s classes who want to be good fathers. They want to love their kids but sometimes don’t know how. They long to see their children but mothers, partners and wives choose to keep them away because of the jail environment and choices these men have made. I’ve heard and seen tributes to fathers today in church, on Facebook walls, Sunday television shows and my spirit aches.
Wisdom teaches that our lives are as vapor. A wisp of wind and they are gone. Like summer grass that springs up in the morning but is withered in the heat of the day. I think of fathers gone too soon and children snatched from the clutches of those who loved them dearly and sigh. It may be Father’s Day but for some the day does not bring happiness.