Sunday, June 20, 2010
Father's Day Gift
I see that little girl, her hair in braids, freckles splashed across a face equally capable of great sun and horrendous storms. I see her sturdy scabbed legs, perpetually bare feet, and a softly rounded tummy that speaks "child." On this day she is heart-broken and will make choices whose full impact won't be understood for another fifty years.
Her Daddy has taken away the one being with whom she shares unconditional love. She begged and bargained and offered her soul, but nothing reached him. Nothing stopped him. Her dog is dead. And now she is alone. Worse, she believes now that she has no power ever to stop the worst possible thing from happening. Worse yet, she completely loses her status as his special Squirt. He stops looking at her, rarely speaks to her, never ever invites her onto his lap.
She decides she doesn't need a Daddy. If she can't have him, she won't need him. While she doesn't yet have the knowledge, at some level her heart knows she's already been abandoned once, unwanted and unseen, by the man who gave her life. And Mommy has made sure God, the ultimate Father, is a being to be feared - a huge scary man laying in wait to catch her being wrong so he can punish her into submission.
Fast forward a lifetime. Needless to say that decision to never need a father has had some interesting influence on my attitudes and relationships with men, and God. As consciousness has dawned, awareness of the possibility of something else has grown stronger.
The loss of father did not, does not, mean that love and approval and adoration weren't necessary. One unhealed man's decisions did not, do not, speak for the capacity of all men or the worth of that child. There was no way the little girl could know that, or survive the pain of the loss by still wanting the love she couldn't have.
Because I see her clearly, and understand, I can begin to shift the lenses through which I see men.
In an event of pure synchronicity I found myself yesterday in the presence of a group of men whom I hadn't met before, participating in a sacred ceremony overseen by the spirits of Lakotah Grandfathers. The leader, a single man devoted to a spiritual path, offering his time and heart to this ceremony which might help others move farther along on their own path. A family consisting of mom, dad, and two twenty-something sons. The dad gentle, quiet, eyes that greeted with knowing and compassion. The two sons friendly, open, full of laughter.
A brand new father, about to celebrate his first Father's Day, his son born in April, especially captured my attention. He seemed so happy, so thrilled to be a father, so committed to providing a certain kind of life for his family. So intentional. So full of love.
I am loved by men and love them in return. Brothers whom I respect and admire and adore. A husband who is the perfect partner for me and who offers me unconditional love and support. But there has always been something missing, some reserve and fear on my part, some expectation and preparation for their betrayal and leaving - even in the absence of any evidence that might be a possibility.
So this year, the Father's Day gift is for me. A new willingness to hold a more complete vision of what it means to be a man and what men are capable of. A fresh openness to the men in my life, and a tender faith that the need for male love will not always be met with pain.
Photo by Clive Reedman, from Flickr