Father’s Day. The cynic in me (that lurking mass within, so large that there seems sometimes to be no alternate me) is inclined to dismiss our annual celebration as the consumerism and marketing that it doubtless is. My cynical eye sees not only the TV Commercials and Fathers Day Sales (all prices hiked – one week only!) as shallow exploitation; but also sees my daughter at work behind her school desk, sees my older children making their (very welcome!) Father’s Day phone calls, sees even our pastors trying so hard to make Father’s Day fit into a sermon, all as puppets at the beck and call of mercenary masters.
And there I might let it all lie in a mess of contrivance … if it were not for the fact that I am one. I am a Father, six fold. My son, whom I admire for his openness, posted a moving tribute on social media to myself and to my own father that touched me deeply; and as each of my children made contact on Sunday in various ways I realised, not for the first time, how blessed I am, how privileged, to be a Father.
I became the father of three on the day we married. The learning was so steep in those early months that I remember it more as a cliff than a curve! But we had embarked on the greatest adventure of our lives, and I soon discovered something within me that proved more than adequate for each moment of family life. I knew things that I had no idea I knew. Time and again the answers to our children’s curious questions or to their urgent needs came quickly to mind. I discovered, to my astonishment, that I knew how to be Dad! It still feels very cool, almost 25 years later. At 27 I was a man; I was a father; and I was …
… wise. I realise that nobody, but nobody, should claim the rank of Wise Man for themselves; for some reason we reserve this accolade for a rarefied few: elder statesmen perhaps, the Dalai Lama (I’m never sure quite why), and the dearly departed. But no other term so aptly describes the gift of the right word at the right moment which can calm a storm, right a wrong, change a course or heal a wounded heart.
This is fatherhood: the gift of wisdom. A life-giving, long-lived, love-filled experience unique to every father and to every daughter and son. A gift given, received, gratefully remembered.
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