Yesterday after services, I was reminded of Father’s Day in a particularly forceful way. I was chatting with one of the fathers in the congregation  and I asked him what his children were doing for him for Father’s Day. He said that he didn’t want a lot of fuss and so his kids were going to make him brunch and then go on a hike, which I thought was a good way to spend the day, low key and all. Then he asked me the obvious question, which is what I was going to do for my father for Father’s Day, at which point I had to tell him that my father had been dead for about ten years or so . Unfortunately, I seem to have a native gift for making conversations awkward. I’m not sure where this gift comes from, but it is a gift that never seems to fail me. If a conversation can be made awkward, it will be done in the most elegant and complete way possible. Nevertheless, it was an obvious question, no fault of the questioner (except perhaps in not reading my blog enough concerning my thoughts on my father–which it would be understandable that he would want to avoid that task in light of the circumstances), simply a result of the context of my own life.
The question was a fair one, though. What does someone who does not want particularly reminded that it is Father’s Day do for Father’s Day? The answer, of course, is to be reminded continually that it is Father’s Day. Of course, most of this is because most other people like to remember that it is Father’s Day. They post pictures of their fathers on social media, write about how great their father is/was, go out shopping with their loving families in tow. It is one of those days that marks a sharp line between those people who have something to celebrate, and those people who, for a variety of reasons, do not. One knows if one is on the inside or on the outside. If one is on the inside, one simply has fond memories or present celebrations of one’s father, and likely focuses on that. If one is on the outside, one has reflection, rumination, and usually a fair amount of unhappiness in the feeling of being cut off from the joy or pleasantness that one sees all around.
Of course, it is no surprise that businesses would wish to capitalize on such a day either . Whether that is restaurants advertising brunches for children to take their fathers to or dads and grads deals or clothing stores advertising Father’s Day sales, or something of that nature, it’s simply not a day that one wants to wander around alone. Naturally, I stayed inside most of the day, but as I had to go out for errands, there was no choice but to see a lot of fathers and read a lot of Father’s Day material. Even the book I chose to read for myself this afternoon while eating reminded me of fathers, in a way I would not have been able to guess, as it was about the man whose discovery of a Kuiper Belt Object slightly larger than Pluto ended up leading to Pluto’s demise as a planet and its demotion to a dwarf planet. There is nothing in that content to suggest that the book is also full of discussions about how the astronomer became a father, and a father particularly devoted to the uniqueness of his daughter, and his instructing her about life and language and astronomy. Sometimes one simply has bad timing, in that a book that would be otherwise unremarkable would remind one about a cascading series of things that the author never intended to signify, simply because the book was read by the wrong person, something that happens all too often.
If we cannot help but be reminded of something that we would rather not think about, the only thing that remains is to turn it into a positive. If one has rather troubled thoughts about one’s own upbringing, one can at least affirm that our parents did the best they knew how to do, the best they could in adverse circumstances, the best that could be expected, and perhaps even better than could be reasonably expected of someone. Our generosity with others in this regard signals the generosity that should be extended to we ourselves. If the imperfections of our fathers are too much to easily forgive, we can either look above or in the future, to reflect on what it means that God is a perfect Father to us, and how difficult of a task that parenting is for anyone, or that can use the fuel of our own experiences to be more just and more kind to others than others have been to us, and that we can be a better example of how we would like to be treated than others, in fact, treat us. And we can hope, despite everything, that it will be enough to heal at least some of the wounds of a broken world.
 See, for example:
 See, for example:
 See, for example: