We've been thinking of our dads lately. Sometimes we both want to share some achievement with them or give our dads a hug and thank them for all they did for us. We didn't always feel that way. Unfortunately, now they are both gone. But we think of them often, and we also think about all the other boys and men who don't have their fathers.
A Small Bit of History
Bill remembers hearing his Dad's guest sermons at local churches. Often, he lifted up the image of light. Bill remembered that light – the angry light when he stole Tommy Beel's baseball glove and lied about it. Or the unconditional light when he ran off the road in his dad's car and had to call home for help. His dad just said, "I'm glad you're alright.” Bill's dad would speak about the Hindu scriptures: "Brahma made light and out of light he made all other forms”—the Bible: "God's first command: ‘Let there be light.' ”—the Egyptian priests, for whom the sun was the Father of life; and the Mystics, who considered light to be divine. Bill knew both sides of that light.
One of Tom's vivid memories of his preacher dad was when he opened the window of his pastor's study on the second floor of the church and scolded old man Barton for yelling at Tom and his friends for letting their ball roll into his back yard. His dad -- the hero. Suddenly Tom knew no fear. But Tom also remembers when his father stopped in the middle of the church prayer and commanded Tom and his buddy, who were acting up in the balcony, to come down that eternally long center aisle and sit in the front pew. Tom became acquainted with the light of terror.
Dads missing in action
So many grow up without a dad in their lives. Sometimes illness robs us of our fathers. Sometimes it happens when dads give up and walking away. Sometimes it's just inattention. Recently, we have seen the painful loss when dads lose their lives in encounters with the police. Children struggle without a nurturing father in their lives.
Here's Where You Come In
For so many children, dads can be the givers of light. Sometimes they lead the way from darkness into the light.
As a dad, think about the work you do, the time you spend, the sacrifices you make—the light you shine. Think of how you can do better for your children – connect, support, listen. If your own dad is around and you haven't seen him in a while, give him a call, pay him a visit. It's important.
As Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."
Hey dad, need some help? Check out the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Promoting Responsible Fatherhood and the Dads Resource Center.