Sunday, June 18, 2006

daddy's thoughts

It’s Father’s Day, and I’m a Father. Since Allison works weekend nights, she sleeps weekend days, which means these special parent-honoring Sundays get recognized before or after. Usually after. But Friday night I tried to take the fam on a Father’s day outing to reconstruct a date that Molly and I had back in January. We headed to Pavilion Coffee Shop for supper and Ashley Cleveland. We had to rush to get there by 6:00 so that we may be able to find a seat. When we arrived, we were surprised that there was no one there yet, so I jumped out to see if there was a sign on the door. Indeed! It read, “Don’t forget Ashley Cleveland on June 23.”
Oops. We arrived a week early. How are you supposed to celebrate Father’s Day next Friday?
The Fam agreed that we could still go out to dinner, and that I could still choose the establishment. I had one in mind, so I drove there to find it closed for good. The third time charm was Yesterday’s for Shrimp St. Thomas. They, of course, were open.
Molly was prepared to celebrate me and upon arrival at the restaurant, produced a card and package, which I immediately dug into. I have to say that the card would have been enough. I can’t remember many occasions when I received a more wonderful card. Then I opened the package. A journal whose cover recites the Souza quote, “dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you have never been hurt before, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth.”
Yeah, I know, you’re thinking yeah yeah yeah. All those wonderful quotes have been pimped out so much in hundreds of circulating forwarded emails complete with Microsoft® clipart and animated gifs of cute rabbits clapping their hands, that they don’t even warrant a complete read, much less the care of forwarding them to ten friends and the one who sent it to you.
But Molly hasn’t experienced the pimping of the blessing. She hasn’t been beaten to death with meaninglessness expressed through the bastardization of meaningful thoughts. So when she saw that journal cover in the store, she thought, “THAT’S MY DADDY!” And she told me so. She told me with her smiling face when I opened and read it. She told me in the inscription she had thoughtfully engraved on the inside cover.
Early on I had a long list in the inheritance that I wished to leave my children. In the past couple years, I’ve realized that many things on that list are fruits of only a few things that I need to pass on. We all know those whose undignified behavior has been halted by selfish onlookers who have long ignored the rhythms to which they once moved. We all know what life can be stolen by fear caused by pain of heartbreak in giving love and receiving a counterfeit or being rejected or used or betrayed. We know songs that have been silenced by careless, insensitive listeners. And surely we’ve all felt the abundance of life squeezed to pulp from a theology that falsely equates suffering with misery. There are those among us who have become terrified that if we feel any happiness in this life, we are robbing ourselves of our treasures in heaven and in so doing, have become entirely selfish in protecting what is theirs in the next life. Karma covers grace and they damn sure want to make sure no one else is happy either.
But Molly is right. Those words that we’ve all heard so many times, sum up my purple heart and her mother’s orange soul. Living by these words allows you to freely accept the grace that is offered you and to aptly worship in return – to live a life of apprenticeship that will result in the words, “well done.”
I so want to convince my elder son that those feelings he’s felt for months are no less good and real and valid when they are no longer important to the one for whom you feel them. I want Will never to lose that involuntary skip that unexpectedly propels him into the air as he walks across the lawn. I want never to hear silenced Molly’s songs and never see stilled her dance when I peer through a doorway unbeknownst to her.
A soul whose body dances to exhaustion is forever a dancing soul, and to love as though you’ve never been hurt is to feel an unselfish Christ-like love that is not contingent upon being loved in return. To sing as though no one can hear you expresses a heart that cannot be contained, and requires a song that is more important than the singer. To live as though heaven is on earth is to accept Jesus’ gift of abundant life and to assume the answer to his own prayer when he taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
My father’s day prayer is that I can somehow help facilitate the ability in my children to dance before the Lord undignified with all their might, love him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies, to sing to Him a new song, and to live life more fully.

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