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Monday, April 14, 2008


Sunday, at King Oscar's in Chehalis, where the World Wide Marriage Encounter Weekend was ending, I had a chance to meet David and his dad.

For thirty years I had joyfully supported young people as they chose to courageously face that terrifying transition from childhood/teenage/college years to becoming young adults.
Many human beings I met shared their joys and sufferings. Often one of the great losses in their lives had been the physical, emotional, or spiritual absence of a parent.
I could identify with that loss. My father had never been available to me. I needed him to teach me how to be a Black man in American... 1940 to today. The way I talked, my perceptions and attitudes, my understanding of who I am and what I should do were shaped, not by the man who gave me life, but by my grandmother and mother (thank you God for giving me Mary Lou and Lourina), and the women and men who took time to love and guide me over the years. They did very well.
But I know my life would have taken a much different shape if MY DAD had been there for me.
Good shape, bad shape, indifferent shape? I do not know. But right now, as I am writing this post, I still miss MY DAD so very, very much.

So given the stories of the human beings I had served for thirty years and my own deep, deep need of MY DAD, I had come to believe that anything I could do to support other moms and dads in sharing their lives sincerely and deeply with their kids would, in some way, help me to accept my own loss and to help other children to lead lives that were happy, healthy, and meaningful.

David just caught my attention. He was full of energy, very much his own person--- awkwardly shy with me and the other adults there, but just one great big dynamic, loving human being.

David and his dad held my attention... holding each other, talking with each other, playing with each other... absolutely (beyond my desire to whine, moan, cry for what I had not experienced when I was a boy) terrific together.

I really think that the holding and talking and playing with each other is essential to becoming confident, healthy, loving and caring. What do you think?

Here's a video of David, his dad, and a family friend playing together. David is
describing each picture in the brochure as TRASH... aren't the three of them absolutely beautiful...


Stephanie Frieze said...

Our children are truly our future, Joseph and your work to build in-tact healthy families is cruical. Bless you for your work and loving heart. ~Stephanie

Kim Thompson said...

What is beautiful here, Joseph, is how freely you share yourself, your spirit, and your love. This family even furthers that lovely metaphor.

Lorraine Hart said...

Beautiful Joseph. We will always ache for what we did or didn't have...but it can shape us in good ways to move our vision forward, as you have done.

I share with you a poem that I go back to, often. It was written by Dick Lourie...and parts of it were in the narrative at the end of the movie "Smoke Signals." If you haven't seen that movie, I highly recommend it.

Forgiving Our Fathers

How do we forgive our fathers?
Maybe in a dream?
Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often?
Or forever, when we were little?
Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous
because there never seemed to be any rage there at all?
Do we forgive our fathers for marrying or not marrying our mothers?
or for divorcing or not divorcing our mothers?
And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning, or shutting doors?
for speaking thru walls, or never speaking, or never being silent?
Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs?
Or in their deaths, saying it to them, or not saying it.
If we forgive our fathers, what is left?
--Dick Lourie

Stephanie Frieze said...

Great quote, Lorraine and wonderful movie. I haven't seen it in a while so I may dust off the old VHS. ~Stephanie

JosephMcG said...

I remember one birthday party at my mother's home. I was standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by people, some who I knew, others whom I did not know, and I still am convinced that I heard one man right behind whisper into my ear, "I'm your dad," but when I looked around, I saw a few men talking to each other, but no one spoke to me.
Forgive my dad? I would love to be able to say I did forgive him; but I do not know... he and I have never met; I just hope that I can be a loving, supportive male for the men and women who come into my life each day...
Thank you, Stephanie, Kim,and Lorraine, for your affirmations. You give me the strength at this moment to smile and keep chugging along like the Little Train Who Thought He Could.

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Last evening at the end of a stress-filled day, Charles, Mattie (Charles' mother), and I went for what we thought would be a relaxing dinner at The Olive Garden. We were seated adjacent to a table with a shrieking child. Thankfully, they soon completed their dinner and drinks and left. As quickly as the table was cleared and reset, a family of five (mother, father, and three small children including an infant) were seated next to us. Just as soon as the infant was situated in the wooden high chair, she began to scream and didn't let up. But the parents handled it so well and were so loving toward the baby and so engaged with their other two children, that even though my head was pounding, I still managed to feel both admiration and sympathy for the family as I reflected on your observations of the family you interacted with at the King Oscar and had written about here on the blog.

Continue to allow yourself to be enfolded in the loving arms of your Heavenly Father and He will supply all your needs.

If you haven't done so already, read Bradshaw's "Homecoming" and do the work, as we have discussed previously.