Being today is Fathers Day and the timing of things in this world is never random, I saw a great post on Facebook about a week before Mothers Day of some women I know who were standing among other younger women—some holding babies. The post was talking about ‘here is to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.’
I used it to write about mothers after it motivated me to write about what I first thought of, the role of strong men in our lives. Sorry I went there first, but I am a guy so—
Being a guy, I thought what it would look like for men—raising strong men. The problem I think is there is a perception of a strong man being, well-strong. Lifting rocks and felling trees and being shot by Evil and plugging the hole with a dirty ‘kerchief like they did in the movies. The strong silent type who walks down the center of Main Street facing certain death from being outnumbered with not much more than a crooked smile on his face.
We all, well—those who wear socks with their shoes—want that to be true. It is rare when it is true and almost always misleading.
…not even a real part….
That might be part of it, but certainly is not even a real part of it. Kinda like a woman, giving birth to a child by candlelight in a one bedroom walk up in a bombed out-building in Topeka. Can she do it, certainly, she was made to, but what about when it gets real hard.
For a man, we all want to push off the front of a carrier at 170 knots, or roll into a burning school to save the world. Not for really any of us unless we are some young lieutenant assigned to the Reagan or some guy nicknamed Firefighter Joe.
How about a man who just is able to stay in the game? With his family? Or maybe without one?
Where there is no earthly glory.
There is no visible reward, but actually maybe scorn and unsupported judgement.
He swims in a world there is a greater understanding by people if he leaves the relationship of family rather than he stays?
Where he knows he’s broken….
Where he knows he’s broken, or at least badly bent, and yet finds a way to slide on his socks and lace up his shoes and do it one more day.
And those around him instill a sense they just don’t care about him, don’t really think about him, and can’t remember him on any given day.
…where he pulls the covers up….
Where his favorite time of day, sometimes, is when he pulls the covers up under his chin and his one deep breath before consciousness gives way to exhaustive sleep—repeating for years.
He wakes in the morning, like the thousands before it—alone, unable to hear the Captain of the Host call the Heaven’s bastion to quarters because their man is awake. He never sees, this side of the stage, their armor blindingly reflecting the perfection of the Author in whose presence they stand. The Captain, touching his own lips as to silence the man’s dogs, for they see what their man is not aware of, and know things their man does not, for they are dogs and have souls and love perfectly after all. The have grown to know him and the Host and are aware of things as a good a tequila and a fine scotch their man shares as well as the unseen company of Hosts which fills the room wherever the man is-daily.
Daily, he slides on his own metaphorical patinaed armor and sheaths his sword, long since worn and spotted, waiting to answer the calls which will not come. For he is old and his hands are worn and cut and spotted with skin worn and purpled. A call he will not hear for there are others—younger and more handsome and attractive to the task. But he makes his bed first as he always has, and tends to his duties as if driven to do so.
…has been gone for decades….
A place where physical love in his relationship has been gone for decades, with no hope of a return, and yet, he loves still—unconditionally—as best he can without actually being the Author of Love.
Where, instead of getting even, that man offers his hand.
He firmly believed at his funeral, there may only be the pallbearers in attendance.
Where instead of remnant anger, he closes his eyes and offers prayer—because he was obedient to the Author.
Where he stands alone. In spite of his pain.
Where he acts alone. In spite of his loneliness.
No one steps up to have his six, and yet he steps forward anyway—not without fear, but in spite of it.
Where he knows this is his task. To love well and hard and to death. Love is a sacrifice word. Where a man knows it will cost him all glory, all to be known, all his earthly value. And yet he offers himself anyway. Not without fear or question, but in the face of it.
Yeah, I want to be one of those guys—someday. Complete with scars, and tears, and wounds of the heart.
I want to know and feel my heart and soul are in the trim. I want to wear my socks with holes in case I need to run and my cinches and harnesses to be set, with my gnarled hands to feel the leather of the wornness of the proverbial rein.
It’s amazingly hard. On a daily basis, it is hard.
That’s the point.
That’s the point.
And the Author of Love smiles. He raises his hand to quiet the crowd. The deafening cheers they raise in honor of that man’s actions, we never hear. On the other side of the stage, the Author simply says, with a wry smile and a smudge of pride—
Happy Fathers Day
Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I was on the same page as Patterson. Enjoy.