Here are five things my father taught me, either directly or indirectly. I believe all of them are good. I list them, with a smidgen of commentary, to honor him this Father’s Day. And why five? Because that number represents a handful…any more than that and it gets hard to handle.
1. Its good to love. Folks remember little of what you say or do, but they do remember what you love. The texture of your life comes from your loves. My dad loves my mom, and Johnny Cash music, and horses, and peanut butter. If you love people and places and even things, your heart’ll break many times over. Sure, there are bad breaks, but there are also good breaks…you’ll never know the difference unless you choose to love.
2. Its good to have some heroes besides Jesus. Oh, keep Jesus by all means, but a little faith in fellow feet of clay demonstrates you live in the world and not just on it. One of my dad’s heroes died recently – James Arness, aka Marshall Dillon. His death broke my dad’s heart, just a little. My dad’s heroes have always been cowboys…and Jesus.
3. Its good to be moved to tears…for example, when heroes die or when the national anthem is played at ballgames or when you lay eyes on your grandkids for the very first time. Not too long ago I sat with my dad and brother and we listened to the soundtrack from True Grit, those old hymns rendered achingly gorgeous by Carter Burwell…my dad just sat there and wept.
4. Its good to go easy on folks. That tough love stance is appropriate every once in a while, sorta like that singular incident of Jesus kicking over stuff in the Temple. But that’s the exception. The rule worth more than gold is be gentle.
5. Its good to remember God speaks through the sacred. And if all of life is sacred, then God speaks through everything. The trick is to learn to listen to the whole show, every damn stitch, all of this world’s heart-breaking beauty. Then, when the end comes and it will, you can smile and say ‘my, my’ and mean it.
Thank you, Dad. You’re a good man…only God knows how much I love you.