It is that time of year again when we agree there is a day when we honor our fathers.  Honestly, I always felt it was kind of hokey to have days like this.  Not for mothers.  But for me, yes.  For me because it has been the single most important experience of my life being a father.  I always felt it funny to honor me for something that was really an honor to ME for being able to step into these shoes.  Huge.  But, I have turned Father’s Day into a day where I think about just how important it was to me to be able to be a Dad.

I have learned so much about us as humans by being a father.  I have learned a second and third time about innocence and innocence lost, about strength, about weakness, and about being human.  I have learned that just as I seek to instill confidence in my children, I have also seen the opposite happen.  It would be great if we could just see parenting in black and white, but it is rarely that.  But that doesn’t mean that it is bad.  It means that it is real.  All of it. The humor, wonder, awe, sleepiness, sleeplessness, joy, sadness, elation, depression, anger and grace…..on all sides and at different times.  And the hardest lesson was knowing when my ability to help my children stopped.  For years you are the very source of life for helpless human beings, and there comes a day when they just don’t need you like they needed you in the past.  And for me?  Sometimes hard, sometimes, but even when they were small I told myself, “They will grow up and will have their own lives…get ready for that exciting moment filled with a sudden shift away from having them in your life….”  It teaches you that as you help a person to develop their lives organically in front of you over a period of almost two decades, it also teaches you that you had better have a life of your own or else there will be a vacuum that will leave you the way it leave some parents….empty.  But the curious thing about being empty is that it leaves a big space that can be filled again.  Our children do not completely leave us….ever.  As a father I feel the deep tie that I feel with my children daily.  There is no way that I can ever really have a life completely without them.  And this is why these kinds of familial connections are so powerful, potent.  When things go great, its over the moon, and when they don’t go great, they can be an incredible catalyst for looking at yourself and your foibles, or what needs to be improved or looked at.  And mostly, it is a call to honesty.  And compassion.  And strength.  And sensitivity.  And love.  And more than just that, too!  Much more.  Thousands of days filled with getting them there so they can get on with their own lives.  Arrows shot from your bow, but arrows that the moment they leave the quiver, are in a way, no longer yours in the way that Gibran referred to in his book the Prophet. Even when it is hard, it is the best because of how real it is.  And I say that even in the depths of illusion and distraction and feelings of loss on both sides, these relationships are the most powerful because they have the power to draw out the best of us as well as the worst of us. For me, it is an opportunity to just see it.  And learn from it.

So for as hard as it can be, for as wonderful as it will get, I wish all fathers the very best Father’s Day, and I hope that this glimmer of gold stretches out into your life as you are reminded why you came here for.  At least, it is one big reason why I came here.  For all of it.

The father looms over each of us in this archetypal way.  For so long we wedded our deity with this….an ultimate, perhaps way too much for one being not to be more balanced….and so father’s loom large.  That we can learn to humanize that image more and make him less unbending and more sensitive and breakable might be a great way to remake him back into our honest image. And if we do, we will have done all of ourselves a great big favor.  Fathers, Mothers, and their children.  We will have allowed ourselves to be more honest.  And happy.

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