Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Boundaries or Silty Words

I want my daughter to know I love her, and to know she knows I love her. I want her to know that freedom which comes from my love, my love freely and non-contingently given. Given without expectation upon her (or from her as a result of receiving) of any kind. So, I guess it is saying that I want my daughter to know she is loved, and to know that she is free of any debt for that love.

I want her to know that love because I love her, and want her built up knowing that love, knowing that she is loved, knowing that she is worthy, because knowing those things are good for her, and I esteem her undeniably worthy of being loved.

I don't want for anything from her for this love I give to her.

Philosophically I could wonder if I even have a choice to not love her, because I can not fathom not doing so, or not being overcome by love for her. I can, philosophically, wonder if the only real choice in the matter is in a choice of how I act out or respond to that overwhelming drive to love my daughter. But I suppose these could be considered many words in my head which, like increasing silt and sand in a stream, cause the water to be no less water in nature but certainly more cloudy in appearance.

Because I love my daughter, it seems I must necessarily require nothing of her, and must respect her boundaries while exerting no selfish influence over her, respect her defining of who she is and the relationship she will have to me, if only and in order to allow her in perceived safety to receive all the love which I have for her. I must require nothing in order to ensure the value of what she gives, ergo, respecting her boundaries are that much more important -- not to mention therein she is/will be effectively built up. Indeed, respecting her boundaries is tantamount to her being and feeling loved.

Obviously the same goes for my son.

So.... what? Normally you would notice, if you are regular reader, that many of these thoughts come couched in some more existential experience through which I relate my point. Honestly, though, that's what I want to say. That's what a father does, and that is a picture of the father-heart of God for sure. Certainly you just don't exert influence over them simply as the cost of their receiving love supposedly given freely, but, more importantly, the only way to really love them (children) is to respect ... their personhood, their individuality, their boundaries, call it what you will. (Silty words, remember.)

Part of that is trusting my daughter to know herself well enough, trusting her ability to define herself... and relinquishing control. What she defines herself to individually be her won't change the fact that it is her that I love, and loving her is ... silty words maybe but a marriage of will and love, intention and drive. What grand and magnificent effect when such love, such intention and drive elects, seeks to limit its power and ability on the other's behalf?

At any rate, that's what I got this morning, for this post.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Banks and Umbrellas

In this area there is always a cool front to blow in approximately two weeks before All Saints Day, and the coolness of which ne'er lingers, so that it is always warmer on Halloween than it was two weeks before. You hear the old timers talk about it, and its in the Farmer's Almanac.

Last night it was one of those warm, clear sky evenings, with clouds low on the horizon, full of what I've heard old timers call "heat lightning". This morning it is overcast, unseasonably cool.

Ambivalent weather.

It is also the fourth of a four day weekend, and as I write there is little traffic along my normally quiet street, made thus all the more quiet for the lack of activity.

So, this past Saturday I set myself to a task which has been strongly on my mind and heart to do on behalf of my daughter: I opened for her her own saving account at a credit union. I was prepared to do the same for my son, even, though his attitude towards money is a bit different, and having a savings account for him would not have accomplished the same purposes (in his mind) as I feel it did for my daughter (in her mind).

In the moment I surmised, hopefully with some degree of accuracy, that his having the immediate, cash-on-hand access to his money (along with my willingness to hope to and take him to whatever store he felt like visiting) produces in him (among many, many effects) both that sense of efficacy in attaining to his desires, and that sense of my willing desire on his behalf. After I took his sister to the bank, I took him to the store for that very purpose, and the overwhelming gratitude (and the loving responses) suggest I got close to producing that needed whatever of togetherness.

Different children, different needs, different approaches, I suppose.

For my daughter, in part, it was providing similar sense(s) to her, but more importantly it was a desire to "establish her in the land," so to speak, of civil entity status -- just more in the way of social persona crafting. She is, as I've said, at that developmental stage where she is growing in a social self-awareness, just as she has spent these past years developing her sense of physical self and personal self. Just as one day she will develop her sense of her intellectual and belief/believing self. All in their time, in their season at their respective stages.

In this stage of her life she is developing a knowledge of herself socially, and that will entail growing sense of personal autonomy. A bank account is just one element, one way for her to triangulate her self within the world and know, because I was a part of setting it up on her behalf, my faith and belief in her. This is one tiny boundary of "her": her money, her account, before the eyes of society and others, an account to do with as she pleases, and which allows her a resource pool from which to draw to define herself through choice and action.

The thing is, this is important, her being able to be her own person, and that is something I care to bend myself to go before her in and to aid with establishing her in. I am definitely not going to leave her to do it outside the umbrella of my protection and guardianship of her.

I have to thoroughly believe this is a model of the father-heart of God for us. Christ said, he went away to prepare a place for us, and if he goes he will then return. God in the Old Testament established His people within the land, it was part of His promises. His laws were to establsh them in continuing safety within the land, as we read frequently expressed in Deuteronomy.

So, I didn't realize it until my own father died, but once he passed I felt outside of his umbrella. I hadn't ever seen him or even knew him as a protecting figure in my life. Hell, he was hardly even a present figure, even when I was there visiting. That was a surprising and unexpected thing for me, when he died: feeling the absence of his umbrella, his covering, maybe his protection (even having never known or experienced it). I wonder at the impact to someone when a father is actively that umbrella. It is perhaps in this place of absence that I hear the verse, "the Name of the Lord is a strong tower and refuge for those that believe" -- where I need to hear it, though it be no less true for others who had present fathers.

I have seen for my son my having been that present umbrella, as when some knuckleheaded children were carelessly and negligently throwing rocks on a playground and hitting him as a consequence. I am known for a deep, baritone booming voice, and those children experienced it with a full authority behind it, to be sure -- my son is my glory, and they trespassed him. Always with my son I see where I can be better, rise up more to a better fathering, so I can't presume I do this well, but neither can I fathom in the slightest another father intentionally or lazily or selfishly not being a covering for his children. My problem encountered here then is the question of my childhood, what to make of it. And then, that verse: the name of the Lord is a strong tower and refuge, and therein we, I find strength.

An interesting and rather random note: after the bank and the store we went with friends to the State Teen Fiction something or other held at a local university with some friends. While there, manning a table for an author they knew, were the wife and child of the small town pastor who led my father's funeral services. R-A-N-D-O-M! In that moment, in that place where I felt so out of place, with those two people, I felt my real world expand, like tasting again a fatherland which yet still remains far off. It seems the pull on my focus of immediate, exigent life, with all its routines, as well as griefs, has distracted me from such awareness.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mantles and Towers

One of the more salient experiences coming from the road trip up to Missouri with my friend to see the eclipse from his old family homestead was a question he had asked me. My friend asked me a question I don't know if I would ever have put to myself, if I would ever have had the wording to use with myself. The question he asked was simply had I felt a mantle had been passed from my father to myself. For my friend and his situation -- where his relationships with his family had cohered over the years and wherein he occupied a very continuous role and presence --  I knew this question, its gist and its answer, necessarily looked different. He was discussing a mantle within the family structure being passed on down, from the father, regarding place or role within the family.

I had to answer that I had indeed felt a mantle passed, but not that I felt involved my role within my father's family. I had felt more the conference of my own role within my own family, more a father to my own children. 

There is a sense in this moment now that I want that for my own son. I want more solidifying or more than mere, vague, skeletal structure to the sense of role within the family. I want for him  to have his role be more fully his, for him to have it more fully for himself. Just as I felt more a father to my own children, more fully me and mine, more fully for me for my family, so I want this for my son. I suppose you could say I want for my son to have his own, distinct identity more fully his own for himself.

Not so sure any of this makes sense outside of my own "feel" of the thing. I just know I experienced the realization of a having experienced a good, an experience and a realization brought to the surface of words by my friends question -- a good in which I felt more fully, more freely, and more freely with all opportunity, me.  That good I wanted for my son. I want that alterity, that separated identity for my son. To such an end I know I have to take steps to respect the boundaries of that separate person who is my son, and so respecting I am intentionally and necessarily aiding in the formation of it in him. I have to acknowledge that boundary, that separate uniqueness, in order for it to be there, in some sense.

It's interesting to note that Jesus Christ who actively left the 99 to find the one, Jesus who comes after and avidly pursues, is the one who yet stands at the door and knocks; He who could obliterate the door and for whom no door actually exists nonetheless stands at the door, respectfully knocking and not overstepping. More fascinating still somehow is the dynamic that such respecting of the door is the unstoppable, alluring wooing of the person shut inside.

So this weekend I made it a point to make important to me what I knew was important to my son: he had a gift card to an ice cream place given him for his birthday which he wanted to use. I knew this without him saying it and made this little project of his my project without his having to ask. I came to him, made his project my own, without his having to ask.

Clearly there is a picture of the father-heart of God there. I am struck in the writing of this of how that father-heart inherently respects the boundaries of the son's alterity: his (the son's) goals, his project are respected, those boundaries not overrun but come along side of, while yet still the father-heart intentionally pursues by coming into the project, making it his own.

In a macroscopic view, at least such a view of myself, as regards this mantle (" I am fully a father to my children") I find I have to ask: what all does it mean to be a father; what is the significance of a father, and what is all the significance of a father? What all is a father?

Kneejerk response is that a father is a shield; a safe, stronghold tower. Maybe a gentle shepherd leading from behind, steering as he follows, all the while going before to clear the way, but definitely a shield, a strong tower and refuge. A strong tower and refuge holds out, holds at bay, but it doesn't absorb or subsume or even surround (except in it's surrounding to hold out away from the individual inside). The tower is a boundary which does not invade or cross over the boundaries of the one inside; the tower is an "outward" boundary or that boundaried inside, safeguarding the person inside and that person's boundaries (boundaries as a separate person). A boundary protecting boundaries.

That's what I know right now, what I am thinking about. SUre there is more to consider.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Churning and Folding

This past weekend was one of rest, of rest entered into intentionally. At least it was one where activity was actively eschewed -- thus more avoidant than restful in actuality-- but to the same effect as resting, I suppose. The weeks prior had found us receiving in the mail the birthday gifts of the two beloved aunts, my sister and my wife's, both of whom very wonderfully peg my son's interests with their gifts. The great-grandmother had also sent some birthday money, as she had done with me and my sister every year of our lives, so beautifully typical of her cohort, and we had gone to the store to get the thing for which he had wanted to spend money. All in all there was little or no pressing chore or activity, and life was pretty much settling fully back into a state of routine.

I can't say why I felt this way but it had seemed to me that I had been leading much of the charge over much of the last few weeks and up to that moment of this past weekend. Maybe it had been stepping up with several intentional interactions, planning the party and subsequent class cupcakes, finding horseback riding lessons and scheduling them, so on and so forth through all the intentional activity. So, the intentional eschewing of activity was kinda like intentionally pulling off to the side of the road, perhaps, but neither here nor there. What is salient to point out is the feeling of having been leading the charge.

I found myself, through conversations and tiny choices (like with television show watching) attempting to "fold my son" into the family action. That was my heart anyway. Maybe I was folding myself into his lead, as well.

All I know is that I wasn't wanting to just make his decisions for him, or even to make our decisions without him. And when I was doing so, as with the party decisions  and cake choice and "informing" him of the plans, really I was deciding upon and doing what I reasonably knew he wanted and would choose himself, were it not meant to surprise and bless him.

Folding him into the decisions is being with him, being in his presence in our community of a family. I know he is going to choose the things I know he likes, which we all happen to like. I trust his little character and it's desires, which actually often look no different than what the lot of us desire. The old philosopher in me could argue in the vein of Determinism and so forth -- is he really free if I know what he'll choose sort of stuff -- but the writer in me sees that as too analytically short-sighted.

I am reminded of the verse that goes something like, "the Spirit of God is active within us, causing us to will and to desire according to His good purposes." Taken in light of Christ's many statements along the lines that He and the Father are one, and that Christ does nothing without the Father leading, and doing only what He sees the Father doing, and we sort of get the picture God's Father heart here. God's father-heart is to fold us into the decision process, to be thusly in our presence. I just wanted to be with and around my son in doing something all together, and which we all enjoyed.

For myself, however or moreso, this "folding my son into" is a matter of being with him, desiring him, in that place of the sense of absence of my father. As I said before, when my own dad died I felt a mantle of being even more a father to my own family. It is almost as if that mantle, like a breaking wave churning up underneath itself and into itself, is folding me into and up underneath the absent place. It is filling, it is healing. It is no longer that my dies has died but that my family is living, together.

I am on my own, and I am not alone but with my family, and they are with me. When my dad died, as I tell people, it felt like I was out from beneath an umbrella, out from up beneath a covering which I never knew he provided. I also said I felt unprotected, when he never was a protecting place in my mind. And the control I had exercised in keeping him at arm's length was stripped away by his death. All of that surprised me, and the surprising nature of all that rattled me as much as the loss seemed to. Somehow I guess in some positive way I am saying I want to make my son my life in that place where death has created an absence, and in the doing so I am letting go of more than the loss. In the letting go of control I am yielding to embracing my own identity (one with which my father happened to have blessed me, as a matter of fact) : I am a father, a good father. No longer a fatherless son, but a father to a son.

I wonder if there is not some existential identification with the experience of Christ and God the Father and Holy Spirit here, with Christ becoming man and dying and thus being in human form for eternity thenceforth.

I do know that "folding my son into" is also forming him, formative of him and who he is, just as it ("folding him into") concurrently is part of being with him. And I desire both. Picture of the father-heart of God. I wanted him to also know I cared for what he cared for. In this too, where all of this is pouring into me, I am nonetheless wanting for him, and just as irrelevant was my father's ailing condition to my heart for my children, so too my own healing is irrelevant to and overshadowed by my desires for them, thus highlighting of my children's own inherent value.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Windows, Horses, and Bowling Birthdays

Somehow in this post I get from my father's final blessing of me, his death, my trip to Missouri, up to this past weekend and my son's birthday. Like ripples in a pond, and honey drizzling down through the layers in baklava.

So, a lot of the past two or thee entries have come in the context of my trip to see the eclipse, and the processing of my father's death which occurred during that trip with my friend. That was about two months worth of time between my father's death and the trip, so, for what ever that is worth. But these current days, and these last few posts, are like the ripples extending outward from probably one moment in particular, and my father's passing in general. That particular moment occurred about three or four weeks before my father died, during a final visit when I went up to the old, home town to see him, to tell him goodbye.

We spent a small period of time, maybe two hours, talking, primarily with my stepmother while he remained in the bed. Sensing or trying to read the moment for when I knew she must be tiring, or my father tiring, I got up to go tell him goodbye. My wife followed, ever having my back -- though honestly I didn't expect it of her, nor anticipate it. From his hospice bed my father reached up, took our hands in his, and conferred a blessing upon us. He told us we had good kids, and were doing a good job, and my wife deserved some of the credit for that as much as I did (me being the stay at home parent, her the working parent). He then invited us to return anytime, welcoming us back.

One of the issues we have always had in the past with my father was how he would often ask us to return for a visit when he evidenced no satisfaction or gratitude when we had come to visit. This time however my father, in those brief two minutes if it were that long at all, was so absolutely accepting (as if no past tensions between us mattered), so welcoming and open-armed in heart -- without qualification or expectation or onerous, burdensome requirement -- so freely loving, well, he was the very picture of Christ and Christ's offer of forgiveness. Pure, free gift and grace.

There are windows into Heaven, and that moment was a window. I am convinced that while I was only vaguely aware of the moment, my father must have been more cognizantly nearer the presence of God than ever before, and as with Moses at the burning bush we were on hallowed ground. I do know, in that moment, that I had had a father I never have felt that I have had before, and having a father in that singular moment was so profoundly good that even all the years of not having had one could pale of diminish the moment of having it. I think even my wife had a father in that moment, or in the very least received a fatherly blessing which recognized her contribution as well as conferring other things.

On the trip to Missouri my friend asked if I had felt a mantle being passed from my father to me, and I said I surely felt the mantle of that of being more a father to my own family (as opposed to any mantle within my own father's household).

Somehow all of this fits into this weekend, or this weekend fits into all of this. Well, a very busy Saturday more than the whole weekend.

I have for some time been researching (as I may have mentioned elsewhere) horseback riding lessons for my daughter. This past Saturday the entire family took a trip to the place which offers the riding lessons for a tour, an attempt to get a gauge of the owner and the venture of riding lessons itself. I liked the owner and her ethos (with an emphasis on teaching everything about horses, from grooming and care on up through dressage and various forms of riding particulars). In a sense I was trying to look through a window at what it would be like for my daughter, in the hopes of providing her confirmation of her desires and this particular path. This was a very practical step forward, a foreshadowing or picture into the experience suggestive of my earnest partnering and commitment to the project of equipping her. Surely a picture, a window of the father-heart of God for us all.

What makes this tour so episodic in the narrative of the weekend is that this tour was a sort of "additional" to my son's birthday celebration preparations, and all the events and context surrounding the Saturday's plans.

Up until Friday morning I had no clue what form of party we were going to have for my son. I was defaulting to cake and ice cream at the house, hoping I might clean at least one bathroom prior to. Further complicating matters was the fact my son's best friend, a girl down the street, was having her birthday that same day, and my son and daughter both wanted to attend. Friday morning, from out of the bue, an idea struck me that there was a bowling alley that hosted kid's parties, and it just so happened the place had an open slot. This slot turned out to be right before the friend's party (held elsewhere). Providential doesn't quite cover it, if you follow my drift. With plans in place I invited specifically and only those close relationships which seem to most bless my son. (I had at least had the sense to order a specialty cake earlier on Thursday.) Friday evening found me at home with my son while my wife and daughter surreptitiously went shopping for gifts, party favors, and so on.

My daughter was quite precious about the whole affair, using her own money to buy a truly thoughtful gift (and fitting one it turned out), as well as bending herself to stuffing the party favor treat bags. Hence, Saturday we get up, rush off to the horse stables tour, come home, have lunch, rush off to store to pick up the cake and then on to the bowling alley (all whilst my son had no clue to the plans for his surprise), and after the party, on to the little friend's party.

My attitude towards my son in all of this was one of wanting to see him honored, yet found myself grateful for the love bestowed upon him. I was blessed by those loving my son. I wanted significant relationships for my son, and invited for him (surrounded him with) those relationships which seem to be entirely life giving to him. I manufactured the experience (well, you know), brought the people together, supplying it. Surely that is a picture, a window of sorts, into the father-heart of God for us.

And yet how does all this link together, how do the first and largest ripples resemble the last and smaller ripples? How do I get from my father's blessing of me (in all it's picture of Christ's grace extended to me) to this picture, these pictures of the father-heart of God for us all (and those moments from which they derive)? From the sense of a mantle within my own family to lives and blessing of my children? From the existential to the imageric?

This morning, writing, I don't know if it does, or, at least, if it does for me. See, I think this blog post is actually, somehow, about my wife (where my last post was similarly about my sister-in-law). Throughout this weekend my wife was present, despite a toll it took upon her. She wanted to be a part and made herself an active part, even though it messed with her nighttime work schedule. My moment with my father was also a moment with and for her, to her blessing. In all of the lives of my children she RATHER HONORABLY AND VALIANTLY plays a part. Beyond being the bread winner, beyond being a support who anchors or balances me, she influences our children's lives. Sometimes silently; sometimes sonorously. She is a motive force. Her presence in our lives are such that she and her influence are not ever absent. Take its motion from it and wind is only air; take my wife from the picture and the family is not a family. More so, to me, I would not be the father I am without her, her influence and support and building up of me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Out to the Gate

Of my sister-in-law I have an inestimable esteem. A product of the same formative context as my wife (of whom none other, in my eyes, equals in terms of worth or deservingness of admiration, and this not simply for coming out of that context but definitely in part for such), has silently carried many a mantle within her family-of-origin.

My sister-in-law, like in the fashion of most ambassadors in their own roles, is a sort of gate to her family-of-origin. She just occupies that role, that function. Whether this is intentional on her part or not (if it just be something of her core being out of which she just naturally operates) I can't say, but it did certainly (as on numerous occasions in the past) add dynamic to her presence in my children's lives this past weekend.

Whereas most ambassadors are merely functionaries sent (on the behalf of a sending sovereign) in the intention of fostering relationship, my sister-in-law herself sought such relationship with my children clearly from out of her own being. Put differently, my sister-in-law was self-sent, out of her profound love of my children, and in no other desire than for relationship -- whether  she acted in the role / function or not.

Maybe in risk to my nuance through reductionism, I'll make the simple yet fine point: my sister-in-law herself chose to come be a part of my children's lives, across many a physical and emotional gulfs (into relationaly unsettled seas), because it is the sort of self-initiating person she is. Yes, that ambassadorial aspect of her is attendant to her simply loving my children and wanting relationship with her niece and nephew, but (attendant or no) it adds dynamic to that simply loving them. She loved my children beyond just being their aunt "from my wife's family," but was ambassadorial concomitantly to/with her auntly affections. She was intentionally my children's aunt.

 But this is just the prelude, the tip of the iceberg, the setting of the stage for why, in this moment, I feel such an inestimable esteem for my sister-in-law. The iceberg itself is what lies hidden beneath the frigid waters, and though you know its presence by its surfacing tip, the iceberg's breadth lies in a greater and colder body.

When my father was passing, in his final few weeks of life, it was heavily impressed upon me to listen to his heart, to hear in his final words to me whatever he would be saying to me. In the moment when I entered his room to knowingly give my final goodbyes (for that day's visit, and for the last time in his life and in mine) my father gripped my and my wife's hands, and blessed us. It was a simple statement about how well we were doing with our children, what good kids they were, and how we were welcomed to come back anytime we liked.  The heart in his words, behind his words, of his words... his heart... was one of utter and free acceptance, where all the past and past  mistakes and past hurts were utterly absent; where no expectations existed, no qualifications or delimiting criteria existed. Just free, utterly accepting welcome. The identity inherent to a blessing of a father coming in the words of affirmation of myself as a father, of my wife and I as partnering parents.

In that moment I had a sense of God, of His free welcoming, His unqualified giving, His total acceptance and accepting blessing of me in His love and in His forgiveness. As with my father I was brought in, am brought in.

From out of the earlier trip with my friend, the trip up to see the full eclipse, came the externally-processed "expression" of part of the nature of the blessing: the experience of having stepped into more fully the mantle of "father" -- to my own children. My children are my life; my children are me.

Along with the tenuous relational and emotional contexts into which she was coming, various health issues and the ubiquitous exigencies of modern life were all lending to what I would have expected to be a debilitating fatigue for my sister-in-law, the sort of which I wouldn't want to have give from out of to others. My sister-in-law, however, not only gave out of exhaustion and deficit, but lavishly gave, lavish to the point of exorbitant lavishness. She took them swimming, had pizza with them (their favorite food); he took them to a rock-climbing and bouldering gym; to a bookstore (and they both love books); to enjoy ice cream and scenery. My children were blessed, and in the process, I too was given an exorbitant grant of time free of the responsibility of care-taking my children.

Very very easily I can see the father-heart of God for us in the ambassadorial-intentioned bringing of lavish blessing (at a greater-than-normal cost to herself) heartedness of my sister-in-law. She is, from this weekend, a picture of the father-heart of God to me. And just as it is my heart to bring all those blessing to my children, so can be seen in my desire to enable their aunt (through my permission) to spend time with my children a picture of the Father-heart of God to see His people blessed through His people. There are many pictures of the father-heart of God coming out of this weekend.

My esteem, however, for my sister-in-law rests not merely upon simply how she modeled the father-heart of God, nor upon what she did, or upon the greater understanding of what she did as that is contextualized by her fatigue and exhaustion, or even upon the degree of lavishness with which she revealed the breadth of her heart. No, my esteem for her rests upon the fact that she came, that she is "one who comes to" ... to my children. Just as my father showed me "acceptance," she shows me "coming". It is who she is: "she who comes to". Christ called himself the gate, despite being the one who came to us.

Now, I have to add a caveat, because let's face it, 4 people read this blog and 3 of them are family. My sister is also an incredible aunt, no less estimable than my sister-in-law. My sister is different, but no less estimable. What I needed to process in this post, however, is not something correlative to my sister and who she is and how that is a model of God to me.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labors of the Day

I didn't sleep well or much at all last night. That has left me quite as you would expect for a middle-aged man.

In this particular moment, on this particular morning, I am feeling quite as I did in those moments of my road trip to Missouri, to watch the most recent full solar eclipse. In those precious moments I felt as though I were fully in a moment of waiting. Strangely it was also a feeling of journeying, but maybe I confuse the one for the other.

Ultimately it was a sense that all was pushed out, and I was nowhere but in the moment, able to be nowhere else but there, then, in no control of circumstance but entirely unthreatened by my lack of control, and untempted by any desire to control the circumstance. If we found ourselves stuck in traffic, it was what it was, and just happened to be that that was what I was doing in that moment in that place. There was no requirement to be any where by any set time. I couldn't be where I was going any faster, and going slower and getting there later just was more circumstance in which I might find myself unable to do anything about, and no where near an immediate concern. What is is what was, and what would be would be what was.

It is a precious freedom, that feeling of journeying, of waiting. I'll call it journeying. It is a release of burden, and quite the feeling of being carried. Standing, perhaps, on the heaving prow of a mighty and heavy ship charging through the waters, supported by its deck and strength. It (that road trip) was (today is) that salient sense which I think is attendant to (and part and parcel within) that notion of "the blessed man for whom a Fatherland is yet to come, yet seen and longed for from afar." Perhaps in this is the closest kinship (as a fellow man) I have to the patriarch Abraham -- and to all whom have come since him, and to all who have yet to come after me.

I need that feeling this morning. I need that orientation.

Several of the very few that read this blog have asked why I do it, why I blog, what is it, why the detached tone, and what is my aim through it all. Some noted the repetitious nature of the entries, and went so far as to ask if I really believed or incorporated all I said in each entry, or were the posts just my processing those ideas for myself? All good questions. But a question has it's time, and that question's answer may yet have another time or times.

This weekend was Labor Day weekend. Friday, end of school, found us having a playdate in the midst of which we delivered yet another baby rabbit to a new home. This saga is nigh drawing to an end, and we have only one baby and two adults to rehome. My daughter and my wife are increasingly relieved with the extrication of animals from the household. The playdate was successful for all concerned, in that the mothers who had gotten a girls' night out as a result had had a good night, and none of the children left my household having spatted or any the worse for wear under my care. Indeed, I think new friendships were cemented, and blessings went forth.

Saturday I spent the day trying to actually nail down what has been put into motion for my daughter and son, in terms of arranging those ongoing extracurricular activities in which they'll be participating this school year. For some time it has seemed important to involve my daughter in horseback riding. She loves horses, as it seems many little girls do, but maybe in ways or for reasons beyond what other little girls commonly do. It is important to her, and seems to fit into her desires to be involved with animals and therapy and animal rescue / rehabilitation.

Horses are, like otters or dolphins or dogs, a particular path. Me, I am a bird guy: I connect with birds, find them beautiful and ... well, just the animal I connect with the best. I can't say my daughter is (or is not) a "horse-person" like I think myself a "bird-person," I mean, honestly, we haven't been around horses yet, but I know this is a particular path for my daughter. There a defining here, of her, by virtue of the particular path, and that most importantly is what I am intentional about giving her. If we were "sports people" we would be, would look like "sports people." For now it seems my daughter is a "horse person" and thus I am putting her "into" that, setting her into that. Saturday I spent calling stables and riding studios.

For my son I sought out jiu jitsu studios, though, honestly, he is not at that developmental phase where such specific activity-based identity is forming. He is known (by his teachers and by those adults who have spent time with him) as a little man of character and of integrity and of empathy. I am thinking this foray into mixed martial arts may just spool up more his inherent leadership personality. If nothing else, for him, I am just delighting. His path will be, about that I am certain, and this (like my other efforts on his behalf) is my attempting to proactively maintain the pace. I say maintain the pace because already, I feel, he outstrips me as a man of character, and he challenges me (by virtue of himself and his value) to be a better father than I am, to be more than I am. Just to win being worthy of being his father. I don't deserve him as a son, I know, and so I try to justify if only a little bit more the faith he places in  me, since he deserves that effort on my part.

Some reading that might hear only self-condemnation. Really, though, it is the most selfless I know being, because it is focused on the fullness of his value, with little focus on myself -- I feel only his value, and feel any worthlessness. A proud father of a son would hear what I am saying.

I think maybe, where with my daughter I am intentional as she needs me to be (and where I show (cue the refrain) the father-heart of God for us all to her), I showed it to my son on Sunday, where I was protective of him. We were on the church playground after church, and some older boys were throwing pecans and pebbles at each other. One parent already had asked them to stop, and I was almost quivering with a desire to call them on their behavior, but was allowing them the choice to do right by that parent and all the rest of us parents. When at last they threw a rock which hit my child I reared up in the full baritone, drill-sergeant-like voice for which I am known, and in not a small amount of authority yet gentle firmness, expressed they had thrown a rock after being asked to stop, it had hit my son, and had hurt him, so they were to forthwith stop.

In that moment I was fully controlled, but quite certainly defensive of my son. There was no limit to the extent to which I would have gone to protect him, though I limited my response to the situation -- the situation leading up to the event, and the situation of the event both. In that moment my son knew the (heart of) protection for himself which I certainly feel is God's father-heart for us.

Those moments of this past weekend are like the countryside of the areas through which I have been driving recently. They have all slowly changed un-alteringly into the similar landscape of this present moment. And all these and this present moment of this morning -- the moment of waiting and of that sense of journeying -- are like the similar, un-altering landscapes of that one larger, particular area of the Ozarks through which I drove with my friend: varied in appearance but of the same form, the place I was in but which was not the home yet to come.

One is anchored in the release of journeying, as I was in the road trip with my friend, in the purpose if not of the journey then in the purpose of journeying itself. More than being on a path for a reason, maybe, it is the reason for Path itself. Path itself is expression, is identity manifested. Path is journeying a corporate journey; individual narrative traipsing along meta-narrative. My friend and I, more than being on a road trip next to each other were on similar journeys on the same journey. Missouri looked to him like the land of his forebearers, while to me it looked like something else. The journey itself, however, looked the same: we both were men of a certain age facing the deaths of our fathers, facing our own foreignness to the Land; facing the land and the Land without our fathers in it; facing fatherhood fatherless; both of us facing the waiting for an as yet to come Fatherland.

Like the memory of an echo the question by some of why I blog resounds, and it is still yet the time for an answer. I am still traveling, still in this moment and this circumstance of today.

I am absent from my friend, have been since we got back. It is not the only absence I am feeling. My father is dead; my Fatherland is yet to come. Those are two different kinds of absence. As I write this at my office window, a hummingbird perches upon the foot rest of the feeder, and I am struck by the beauty of its lines. I seldom get to see them sit still. During the eclipse, just as the full blackness ended and that tiny, tiny crescent which for all its slightness showed the immense magnitude of the sun's brilliance to light the world with even a fraction of itself, a bird had sounded. It was the most beautiful event, the bird song, and it dwarfed the experience of the eclipse for me. I am a bird person. As the eclipse ended my road trip with my friend rounded a bend in course alone, and we looked to what was next -- which was a meandering route home. In some ways we had always been looking towards home: looking backwards, looking forwards, looking down, looking up, looking onwards -- all looking towards home.

There's a tension, then, that is at the heart of journeying: the being right there in the moment, and the considering what is to come; the looking along the road, and the looking down it. A tension of pushing out of everything but being right where you are (and being fully, only there), and a moving to where you are yet to be, where you yet long to be. It doesn't mean stopping; it means moving. You have to be moving to be where you are, and stopping is moving in the wrong direction.

Relationships are themselves a form of journeying. Some continue, some end. Some, the healthier ones, change, and all (if residing in that tension of journeying) find the release of just being in the moment, not subject to unchangeable circumstance (of the unchanging other), while yet still looking onwards to what the two as one are being made to become. The path of the relationship, maybe the Path which is the relationship,  the sub-narrative following the meta-narrative, it is the particular manifestation of journeying, the path of Relationship itself. Like with my friend and I, where Missouri was seen differently by both of us, so too the Landscapes of Relationship between two people -- but both look onward to an as yet known fatherland, an as yet known relationship.

It seems that in our closest relationships we have to erect distance-producing boundaries, ironically, in order to draw closer. More ironic still is the fact that the closest we could ideally be would be unboundaried, or rather, without needing boundaries. It is peculiar that desiring closeness, or boundary, or distance all seemingly produce something opposite of what we seemingly want. That maybe is because , when such is happening (as getting different than what we want) we are actually desiring something different. Desiring closeness produces boundaries, while desiring boundaries produces distance, and desiring distance sometime produces closeness. Desiring distance is not desiring separation. Desiring boundaries is not desiring isolation. Desiring closeness is not desiring dependency. Desiring separation, isolation, dependency is not desiring relationship. However, desiring something other than Relationship in a relationship is to desire not more than separation, isolation, codependency. Desiring relationship is desiring identity, or is (in the very least) desiring that which is identity producing.

Back to my reader-friends questions as to why I blog. The most I could answer would be the answer a stranger and first time reader would have of this blog: it is a blog written to strangers, a blog about a man who himself is befriending those strangers to himself, not the least strange of whom are himself (in the day called Today) and his children's future selves.

If I've written you in the writing of me, then you may be the hardest of all for me to love, but I also find I have the greatest compassion for those who find it hard to love themselves, and "doing," or blogging, is the exercise of that compassion. At most I would hope to teach that compassion to my children, knowing I am an eartherly father.