For the Fathers Without

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Dear God, you fathered a world, humanity created in your image, then you fathered a nation, and a peoples. Eventually you fathered the Son who would show the world dutiful devotion, even when his brothers and sisters turned on him, you loved them all.

I celebrate the father’s without shame today. Those that have accepted, loved, sought understanding and pride despite the hardships of life. Who acknowledged children without a marriage certificate or the approval of their families, despite pressures of the outside world, who fought to show their children they loved them.

For the first without fear of diaper changing, spit up or “breaking the baby”. For dreams which are not reality in tiny human form. For the Fathers without their names on birth certificates who raised children to be outstanding human beings. Who spread love without fear.

If only it were all that easy, but it’s also all that hard. Today my heart breaks for the fathers without. They are men who have seen the spectrum of heartbreak and overwhelming joy.

For those who are fathers without children. Men who could struggle with infertility, for men who were born without male parts, for men who make the decision to not have children, yet live in sadness, I lift them to you. They mourn the expectation, the hope of the birth, the overwhelming love.

Like the Parodical father, you wait for us to return to you. But my heart aches today for the fathers whose sons and daughters will never return. Gunned down, threatened, beaten for the color of their skin, their bodies, or whom they love. For the sons and daughters to never return home because of drugs, a bomb or drunk driver. The children lost and taken, abused and broken.

For the children who will never see their fathers again. For those who grieve the loss of a harsh man, for those who mourn the kindest, gentlest soul they knew. For the last Father’s Day with, for the first without. For everyday in-between this Sunday in June where he heart aches.

I pray for those who yearn for connection but have been rejected due to their father’s shame. For those who put doctrine above relationship. For those who refuse to understand, for those who judge too harshly, for those who cannot take the log out of their own eye. For those fathers and children who just can’t right now.

For the fathers without today, his children in someone else’s care, his children taken from the world too soon, his children estranged, his children nonexistent. I mourn for you and with you. God hold them in your care, love them, protect them, watch over them.

This is my prayer, Amen.

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Time

Time. Time after time.

Today they are releasing the 911 tapes from the Newtown shooting last year. Just so you know, I will not be listening to them, I cannot. Just knowing they will be released makes me want to drive to my daughter’s elementary school and hold her tight. Also, I think it’s terrible timing, just days away from the year anniversary.

Time

But as the Advent Photo of the Day calendar told me today’s word was time, I went out to the graveyard at the church. A few weeks ago when my aunt was visiting we were looking at the gravestones, she notices these three graves, all children, all of the same family.

Meet the Parks children, or at least what we know of them from their gravestones (from left to right), sons and daughter of William & Charolilla Parks.

Clarence Everett- died August 18, 1866 1 year, 2 months

Maggie Owens- died July 16, 1875 4 years, 6 months, 13 days

Seymour Gowan- died July 5, 1875 2 years, 3 months, and 3 days

They lost 3 children, within 9 years, the last two 11 days apart. I do not know what tragedy took these babies away from their parents and loved ones, but their headstones begin our cemetery, there are many other children buried here, but not three from one family and so close together.

I know they are long gone from this world, but my heart breaks for their grief, my heart is in pain for their memory of what was and what was lost. They say time heals all wounds, I do not believe this to be true. However, the pain “lessens” because it gets integrated into a new way of being, one of the ways this happens is over time.

These marble stones will stand as long as possible in our cemetery, marking the lives that lived only a small time on earth. Time has worn these stones, but time has marked their journey also.

Upsizing

houseMover (holding a heavy couch): “where do you want this?”

Me: “in the master bedroom”

Mover (looks at me inquisitively): “The Master Bedroom?”

Me: “yes- you’ll see”

Mover (seconds later): “Holy Crap!”

Just last week my husband and I bought our first house. Needless to say it was a very exciting and nerve-racking process. We talked a lot about where we should live, the kind of neighborhood, schools, and community of people we wanted to be around.

I often tell people that I would love living in a commune- and i say it non-ironically. Now people find this very strange from a minister. Visions of mass suicide and kool-aid drinking come to mind. Obviously there would have to be certain boundaries, respecting each others privacy, marriages, and sometimes families just need some time alone.

Really I imagine a very nice senior center where people have different levels of housing. There is a community hangout, dining area, shared outside space, etc. but everyone has their own living space. But really what I’m describing is the type of housing situation I had in seminary.

No, I never want to go back to the two room apartment my husband and I had with cinder block walls, but what I would take any day of the week is that you could have your free space in your apartment OR (and this was my choice most of the time) spend your free time with your friends and neighbors.

In seminary my best friend lived upstairs from me. We walked in and out of each others apartments freely, what was mine was hers and vice versa. And there were dozens of us like this. I miss that community desperately and understand how lucky I am to have even experienced it.

My husband and I have great jobs, wonderfully crazy kids, and now a beautiful house. We moved into a community that is friendly, warm, and socially oriented, but I am still struggling. I long for the deep sense of community that I once had and that I have when I am in the presence of “my people”. Yes, I absolutely need an escape from the world and my family needs together time just us.

But…

This issue is bigger than a house and a neighborhood and a school. For some reason this single family, detached home is reminding me just how detached we are becoming from each other. We quarantine ourselves to separate rooms or compartmentalize our friends into work and sports and family.

In Mark 13:31-35 Jesus asks a rhetorical question, “Who are my mothers and my brothers?” Jesus is always on the side of the oppressed and in many cases is asking the question how can we care for each other in our relationships? We do not need to be born of the flesh to care for someone as a mother, we not not need to be raised in the same household to for you to be my brother.

What we do need, however, is a strong understanding of connection and community.

Connection, true connection with others cannot and should not be separated or detached, it should be embraced and brought into our homes. So that is my challenge in this new house. Instead of longing for the community I once had, I must ask myself, how will I create it in this new place? So next time you’re in the neighborhood come on over, no need to call. Or if you live far away, I’m just a phone call, email, text, facebook or tweet away.

See you soon.