Part 3 of some reflections on my father (Part 1, Part 2). If you were frustrated by having to read it in five-hundred word segments (apparently the upper limit of what folks can read in one sitting these days), the whole thing can be read HERE.
These remembrances provide small glimpses into who my father was in the quieter “joys” of his every day life. In his study, he was able to pursue his curiosity as well as his creativity. Through his cooking, he expressed his routine daily care for the people in his life. Wandering the mountains, he was free to enjoy the beauty and majesty that a moment-in-time can afford. These things have become his legacy to me. While his joys remained a secret to me for a long time, it was not because they weren’t there to be recognized. The problem was my inability to recognize them. I have only recently been able to discover these things to be true about him through my recognition of the way these same pursuits have “charmed” me.
I suppose this means that I have now come full-circle (which I understand is a very Zen thing to do), in that I no longer strive to be unlike my father. I am growing in my recognition that while we are all tragically flawed in various ways, there is also much that is wonderful in each of us. One of the unfortunate consequences of focusing exclusively on the negative is that we miss out on the opportunity to embrace all that is good.
The Christian tradition of which I am a part makes much of the notion of grace. Indeed, many would say that it lies at the very heart of Christian teaching. That somehow, in and through the Christ, we can discover forgiveness for all the pain and suffering we inflict on others as a result of our brokenness and selfishness. It was this idea of forgiveness that drew me to Christianity over twenty years ago.
And yet, in the last decade this theological tenet has shifted from simply being an idea that is endorsed to a reality that is experienced. Through my openness to living in that grace-filled reality, I have come to recognize that my father is just like the rest of us. He (and I) are broken human beings in need of grace and forgiveness. And as much my father is in me, when I extend grace to him I discover that I am likewise extending it to myself.
“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
Much like the essay, the time spent at the memorial weekend was irenic. I don’t know why I would have expected anything less. Buddhists are sort of known for being peaceable enough folks. Even though I hadn’t seen some of these people in thirty years, I was surprised with how easily names and faces came flooding back to me. New friends were made. Old friendships were rediscovered. But mainly, I was grateful for the rare and wonderful opportunity to – in a way – go back in time and see familiar people and places with different eyes. Hopefully, these eyes have grown to be a little more humble, more understanding, and more appreciative. And hopefully, seeing the world this way will become my new “normal.”
Ok, that’s a whole lot of personal out there. Don’t be expecting this to become a regular thing around here. Much more of this and I’ll be needing a Xanax prescription. Thanks for taking the time to read. Hopefully, it was a window into who my father was… and who I am becoming.