|Horsing Around After Supper|
Me: Who is on for dishes tonight?
Justin and Zack: You!
Me: I made supper!
Zack: Want a medal?
Me: Yes, I do. You ate it and didn't complain - except for the peas!!Zack bolted from the table and returned with a Post-It note on which he had written "I made supper. This is my medal." and promptly posted it on my chest. Justin encouraged me to wear it to town that night!!
I didn't wear it to town and the dishes didn't get done. Before I had left Justin had agreed to do the dishes but his friend arrived to study with him just as I was leaving and that took precedent.
The dishes were still there this morning when I got up... and I left them there, thinking I would do them later. I must say, I was encouraged and pleased when about an hour later I heard the clatter of dishes in the sink. Justin had made his breakfast and was doing the dishes. Thank you. Somehow your mother and I have instilled some values in you and I am deeply proud to call you both my sons.
Being a father is no easy task. All the baggage of being male, All the challenges of speaking in ways that allow you to be true to yourself and yet create space for your son to define his own self. I remember one of the most important conversations I had with my own father. Shortly before graduation we sat at the kitchen table to explore options for my future. At that point in my life I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do next week let alone what I wanted to be when I grew up. The options were threefold: buy a hog farm, get a rural route mail delivery contract or go to Holland College and take a trade. Well, the Farm Credit Corporation wouldn't give us any money, and despite dad's connections at the post office there was no contract forthcoming... so... off to Holland College I went... and studied auto mechanics for about 5 months. I don't know who was happier when I left, the instructor, me or the car I took apart in an attempt to repair it!!
All of this to say, my dad let me make my own choices. And when I dropped out of Holland College and began to explore the possibility of ministry he quietly supported me then too. I'm trying hard to follow my father's example, but it's difficult when your 17 almost 18 year old son is determined to make a choice that you don't think is in his own best interest.
In my most recent conversation with Justin about his plans to go and work in Moncton for the summer and live with a friend he said, "Its up to you and mom. You can stop me." To which I replied, "No, you are past the age of us stopping you. You are nearing the age when you are responsible for yourself and all your mom and I can do is offer you our insights and wisdom and hope that with your education and decision making skills rooted in the values and morals we have nurtured in you that you will make the best decision for you." (Yeah, I am sure he thought it sounded like a sermon to.)
And I am reminded of that story Jesus told of a son who went away and a father who ran to meet him when he returned penniless.
I don't know what Justin will decide. I can only be thankful for all the goodness that I see in both him and his brother. I can only stand in awe at their unique individual creative abilities and intellectual strengths. I can only trust that they will each find their own path of faithfulness in the world and make choices that lead to abundant life - life that is uniquely theirs and a gift to the world of which they are a part.
As I write this, I offer gratitude for the ways in which my own father let me strike out on my own and is always there with open arms when I come stumbling home.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. As I give thanks for the labour union that allowed for you to provide for us as we grew up - I can also say that it is because of them that there will be no father's day card in the mail this year!!!
Until Monday... On the Sabbath Road.