Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful for Dad

Today, sadly represents 12 years since the good Lord called my father home after a horrible battle with cancer. It was a horrible last month and during that period of his life I'm glad he no longer suffers. That said, I've missed him ever since.

Like many sons, the relationship that I had with my father was not the best. At best it was strained. From what I've learned since that day, it seems we rubbed each other wrong more-so because we were too much alike. Not a day has passed that I hadn't wished to ask him or get some wisdom. As now the oldest male in the family I'm struck with the loneliness.

Course this year things were different yet again with my daughter being present at the Thanksgiving feast. In 2001, we lost my father on this day 11/29. It was an extremely hard holiday to be thankful of anything and well, with the rest of the holidays lined up behind the only remarkable piece was his absence. This year that bittersweet feeling came back with a vengeance.

I'm thankful that I can see things a little clearer now. I can also claim to be a dad, and work towards being a father. My father was far from the perfect man I saw him as. I disliked him for his order, for his strictness and even his talents. He seemed unflappable and even a little detached. I'd still give a fortune to have my father hold his grandbaby and tell me that in this particular instance I "did good". It's one of those haunting regrets.

Since my father's death, I've escaped a horrible marriage, found and married my first love. Became a father to four fantastic prefab kids and now the proud poppa of a beautiful baby girl. I've even converted and become a Catholic awaiting a final ruling on my annulment. All the while I'm desperate to remember every ounce of wisdom, every lesson from my childhood that my father gave me. He wasn't a perfect man by any means. I am very thankful that he was my father. Thank you Lord for the gift of my earthly father.

It's with that thanks, that I remember that my Father in heaven does wonders for me every day. He wants nothing more than a relationship with me if I just turn towards him. There are days that, like my earthly father, I cannot possibly want or need that love. It is on those days that we need to embrace and run to him. I need him. We all need that love, and we have if we just accept it. Just allow his presence in our lives. If we do we would be those earthly wonders of love. Beacons even.

Baby at 6mos
As I hold my daughters small, small hands I think I see a glimpse of of what God feels about us. We are but children and are so fragile, so ignorant of the strong hands that can guide us if we just let it. I just wish that we could see the miracle the blessing that are children (planned and otherwise) and accept that chance blessing. Sadly, people have a time seeing those miracles. They will damn near bash down the doors of Walmart of Target to get a cheap flat screen but likely many of those same people will reluctantly accept the Eucharist at Mass as well as leave early. We certainly have things reversed. We'll push and shove for material goods we can't take with us but we can barely keep from yawning at the gift we accept at Mass. I'm ashamed for all of us.

This first Sunday of Advent, take a moment to reset your priorities and focus. Take a minute to focus on what matters; and if you are of good fortune -- hug your father as your Father hugs you.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Death Penalty of Death

With my Catholic new-vert status I've taken a very hard and different look at a couple of things I used to simply take for granted. Sadly, the biggest difference is my reevaluation of life in all forms.

Previously, in my Southern Baptist tradition it was sort of an unwritten rule -- Pro-life but on the other hand Pro-Death(penalty). You were against Abortion, but it was okay to prevent conception artificially. You were always praying for the souls of others, but rooting for the murders to die like a modern day linching. Jesus said to love but there are just simply some that don't "deserve" that love.

As I've grown in faith, love, and understanding. I've come to realize just how wrong; how hypocritical things were taught. It seems in Catholic circles there are those that refer to Cafeteria Catholics or Half-Caths had very similar views. Maybe it's age, maybe it's the recent birth of my daughter, maybe a gift of insight but I've come to look at this a whole lot different.

After my divorce, one of my List Goals was to simply come to realize that I would never have children -- a carrot that was held over me for a decade. Well years, and a happy marriage later I'm not only father to four fantastic pre-fab kids, but as of five months ago the father to a fantastically beautiful daughter.

But why would all of that change my views on life, death, artificially birth control etc. Frankly, because until I became a father I simply didn't understand. I never really knew now fragile, precious, tenuous and beautiful life is wrapped up all in one package. Sure, there are some people that literally drip with evil. There are people whose morality is forever challenged. That doesn't mean that we get to play God. On the contrary those are exactly the people we should be praying for and spending some time with; not to drag us down but to show them just what a gift we are enjoying and how awesome it is.

What about rape? What about that twelve year old that was raped by her father/uncle/brother? Wouldn't abortion be "justified" in that instance? The answer is a sad, no. We cannot give values to life or we begin down a very slippery slope. One of which we currently find ourselves on. We need to stop assigning mortal values to "valid" pregnancies and babies.

Back in college I was party to an abortive pregnancy. That child would have turned twenty this year. It was unplanned and the child's mother and I broke up about a year later. The death that I caused weighs very heavy. I certainly wish I could forgive myself but like many instances that followed it was one of several bad decisions I made.

If I could put a pretty little bow on this I would simply say that human life, any human life is precious regardless of the value that we or society want so desperately to append to it. Even if we don't value a pregnancy or a criminal Someone does, and that Someone will ask us all why we did or didn't do something to protect, love or keep the life. What are we going to say? It was a burden? It was too hard? All the while looking to our Savior who died so painfully on the cross. Oh what children are we.

Pray for my forgiveness.
Pray for the soul I lost.
Pray for the souls lost to indifference.
Pray for the souls forgotten or deemed beyond saving.