This year I can’t resist joining the Hallmark marketing moment courtesy of fathers. Likely I’m motivated by grandfather-hood, and by observing how my daughter and son-in-law are managing the early parenthood years. (They’re doing great, btw.)
I well remember receiving my firstborn at the age of 29 immediately following his debut into the world. Holding him eye-level, staring, marveling, I said aloud, “So there you are! What a miracle! You are mine and I am yours. So be it. Whatever comes, we’re walking it together…”
And so we have for 36 years—and counting—and for my daughter as well, who arrived just 18 months later. What a gift this has been to me. Fatherhood has been a wonderful gift. I am a grateful man.
It has changed, of course. That is, the concept of fatherhood has evolved over the last century. My father’s method, though competent, was different than mine, and I imagine my son-in-law’s will be different still. But from the dawn of time, love has been the root of it, that is, fatherhood done well.
Describing this work of love, author Ben Fountain writes, “Much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late: if only I’d known then what I know now, how much smarter, abler, stronger, I would have been. But nothing really prepares you for kids, for the swells of emotion that roll through your chest like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill, nor for the all-enveloping labor of it, the sheer mulish endurance you need for the six or seven hundred discrete tasks that have to be done each and every day. Such a small person! Not much bigger than a loaf of bread at first, yet it takes so much to keep the whole enterprise going. Logistics, skills, material; the only way we really learn is by figuring it out as we go along, and even then it changes on us every day, so we’re always improvising, which is a fancy way of saying that we’re doing things we technically don’t know how to do.”
How true that is! How ignorance masquerades in confident know-it-all-ism. It’s good news indeed that our children are more resilient than we might suppose, that a stupid parental mistake made within a larger container of love does not wreck the project or the child. An authentic “we’re in this together” sensibility covers many sins, for as our children experiment with growing up, so too, their fathers’ experiment if they’re brave enough to admit it; and generous goodwill flowing in all directions provides the relational shock absorption when enduring bumpy terrain. Fortunately, my kids are very generous in this regard, and like I said, I’m a grateful man.
And a word of gratitude to Heather Fetrow, the Director of our Parish and Children’s Choirs who will be transitioning to a new position close to her home in Washington D.C. We’ve been fortunate that for the last year Heather has been commuting to continue her good work with us. Come say goodbye to her this Sunday following the 11 o’clock service.
Oh and remember! Starting Sunday, June 25th, our summer schedule will kick in with services at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.