Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"I'm gonna watch you shine..."

"I'm gonna watch you shine.
Gonna watch you grow.
Gonna paint a sign,
so you'll always know...
As long as one and one is two,
there could never be a father
who loved his daughter
more than I love you...."

- Paul Simon

Songs like this one -- Paul Simon's, "Father and Daughter" -- songs that you might hear at wedding receptions, during daddy-daughter dances...used to make me ache for a dad of my own.  Someone who would walk me down the aisle, someone I could turn to for advice about cars, and electricity, and how to build a picket fence all by myself.   Someone who would stand up for me against the tyranny of a bully, the bullying of a gossip...someone who believed that I deserved better than my even own hopes and dreams would allow.

I didn't have this.  I watched girlfriends get married and waltz across a parquet floor on the arms of their dads, I listened to brides describe their wedding dresses to doting fathers, I longed to
be the fallen toddler on a playground, scooped up into the arms of her protective papa.  

But an afternoon in later winter some years ago, started  a seismic shift in my heart... from one of longing, to one of contentment. 

I was standing outside the large auditorium where our church headquarters...The Mother Church...had hosted an all employees meeting about fiscal integrity, wisdom in economy, and thoughtful spending.   I was feeling deeply grateful to one particular member of our governing Board for expressing such clear "fatherhood," when that same dear  man breezed through the doors, into the soft dusky light of a February afternoon, like a zephyr. 

Seeing me standing out of the wind, in a concrete alcove, he stopped to say hello.  I thanked him for his wise counsel during the meeting and mentioned that I'd been touched by the example of fatherhood he'd given that afternoon. 

He turned to a Bible verse that was engraved in the concrete above my head, it read:

"Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father,
and attend to know understanding."

He reminded me that it, the Word of God, had been there all along, every moment, of every day, in my life.  It had never been inaccessible or unreachable.  It had defended my integrity, defined my place in the world, comforted and supported me.  This man, himself, was a loving father, but you could see that he deeply depended on this truth in the way he trustingly parented his own children.  And in that moment, I could feel that I was no different.  He was giving me the same gift he would have given them.   There was such impersonal, but deeply loving tenderness in his care, and counsel. 

From that day forward, I dove headlong into the Scriptures whenever I felt clingy in my relationships, or neglected by the circumstances that had left me without a dad.  When I felt far away from my mom, without a friend, fearful for my children, or uncertain about the future in my most significant relationships.  I searched the Scriptures, because I knew that it was a reliable place, for me, to find the spiritual substance of my relationships...with my father, my husband, my sisters, my brothers, my friends, my neighbors.

Poetry is my native tongue, the language of my heart...So, here is how my heart boiled down this truth:

"Why don't
you hate him?
she asked
brows furrowed in
a mixture of
consternation and

"You really should
hate him, you know...

no little
girl,  as sweet as
you were,
should be
left...and forgotten...
like that

especially by
and trusted.

You really have
every right
to hate

"But I don't.
I say with
a new

I don't have that
left in me

The space that
was once carved out
by violated trust,

It is full

it is full of

And I am innocent.

I am not
empty...at all.

I am complete...
there is nothing missing,
there is no one missing...

I am
wholly whole,
fully content,
deeply loved,
completely adored,
inviolately free.

and I know it.

"No," I say,
"I don't hate him,
I love him..."

I love him,
it is

there is a place

I think
I will

It will be

it is
where my

Our children have all been blessed with extraordinary dads...kind, gentle, attentive, selflesh, supportive men who will dance with their daughters...and perhaps even our son...at their weddings.  But it is the sense of God as their Father, that these men have given most generously as gifts, to each of our children, that will make the biggest difference in their lives.  Thank you...

offered with Love,

Kate Robertson, CS

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