Whew… That title is a mouthful, isn’t it? The funny thing is that this is what I started typing yesterday, but it just didn’t feel right. I wanted to let it ferment and have the right words bubble up to the surface to do justice to this topic… or these topics… they’re all pretty much tied and interlinked like the roots of closely packed trees, all stemming from the same place.
As my dad’s passing slowly drifts further and further into the rearview I’m coming more and more to grips with “my new dad.” The Dad I’ve known my entire life was real, physical, tangible… The Dad I know now is a ghost of sorts. Don’t worry, I’m not going off the deep end and seeing crazy things, it’s nothing supernatural like that. I can feel his presence more than I could in the past. More than ever I’m hearing his voice in my head, I’m remembering great times we had, and having random thoughts about him pop into my head. I’m talking with him just as much or more than I used to, still asking him to help, asking him for advice, and joking with him. I can’t hear his laughter and voice with my ears, but I can feel it in my heart. There would be almost anything I would give to have the original version back, but I’m getting more and more okay with this new dad… Which leads me to the other “new Father.”
Our church’s new associate priest gave his first 9am Sunday mass yesterday and before the service even began I knew we had a winner! In a pre-mass sound check he had many of us smiling and laughing, a sign of what was to come. We’ve had many excellent priests over the decade and a half that I’ve been going to our church, but there’s just something about Father Matt that I was able to instantly connect with. An incredibly genuine, upbeat, humorous, insightful, and energetic person with a strong passion for helping people, he did an incredible job of winning our congregation over in no time. I’m very pumped and excited for our new Father!
In his homily he shared the contrast of what many of us want to be as men and what Jesus calls us to be. He started off by discussing the painting “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” by Caspar David Friedrich. In this painting the wanderer is alone, independent, ready to head in any direction they choose. We can’t see the face – is there a look of excitement, contentment, nervousness, fear, thought, remorse, or satisfaction? We’ll never know for sure, but I do know that I love this painting, me alone, me against the world, me taking something on alone… The sweet elixir of independence. A blessing and a curse depending on how it’s used.
Father Matt then contrasted it with Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The historical version of the yoke Jesus is referring to is a harness made for two, a spot for Him and a spot for each of us. Learn from Him, be like Him, let Him help you shoulder your load. What a contrast to the painting, right As opposed to living the hard way and carrying our weight alone why not let Jesus be there to help us with our burden?
As he shared the message my thoughts went to two different but very similar places.
First, bearing the weight of losing Dad has been helped by how he’s right next to me in the yoke of my life. Knowing that he is always with me brings me happiness and eases the incredible tough load of knowing that Dad is gone. It was specifically because of his homily that I realized just how thankful I am to have my “new dad” in my life. The thought of his presence helps me daily.
The other thought in my head brought a smile to my face… It was a beautiful reminder of my blog post from about a month earlier Day 255 – Thankful for Letting Go of the Wheel. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I realized he was helping me out with a similar message to the one that I started to learn that day. It was also sobering to think of how I’d already started to stray from that thought process. I really hope the Big Guy Upstairs keeps sprinkling these reminders into my life, this seems to be a lesson that is going to take me a little while to really and truly get.
Whew… That was a long one! While I’m thankful for many things today, new fathers, an excellent homily, and a reminder to let go of the wheel… let me throw out one more thing that I am thankful for today. I’m thankful for learning from my blog post from yesterday. Instead of just firing off a half cocked blog post last night on this topic I knew I needed to take a deep breath, make sure it still resonated today, and do it the justice it deserved.