Friday, July 13, 2007
Who's My Father?
My relationship with my father is simple and complex.
It's simple because I really don't know him very well and so we tend to run our interactions along lines we are used to... not a lot of depth.
It's complex because we are both people with strong views, active minds, complex perspectives.
It's Friday morning, Jeremiah and I have showered, Isaac is doing so, and I will then do the laundry. We are spending the day with a long time friend of mine who has done very well in welding supplies. He set a $1000 aside to show us a good time. I thought the boys would want to do Disneyland or Universal Studios or some such, but they want to go to the mall and then watch TV on Doug's 40" LCD with the theater surround sound and massage chairs.
So, in this moment of waiting for the dirty clothes to be gathered I am thinking about my dad, and pecking at this keyboard, transfering these thoughts onto this online journal.
He is flying in tomorrow afternoon from Thailand. Early the following morning, during a time I usually spend with my church family, we will be setting up to watch him attempt a world record on a "motorcycle." I don't know the details of the motorcycle, except that it is nitro-fueled, has approximately 400 horsepower, is very low to the ground, and is very expensive.
I'm more interested in my dad. Where is he spiritually?
This house we have been staying in, the one dad stays in (while he is briefly inn the U.S.) because it is more convenient than living with his wife, the one that used to be my sister's, doesn't feeling like a home. It is simply a house.
There are clues here to what my father thinks is important. Everywhere I look I see pictures of my sister, some walls have seven or eight pictures of her. There are also a lot of pictures of my dad, sitting on motorcycles in the desert, posing with groups of strangers in different parts of the world, holding trophies.
When I remember him from my childhood I feel anxious, a little fearful. He was a frightening figure, dominating. Looking around this house I see hints that he has other sides to him.
The little figurine on his night stand hints at the tender side he might have toward children...
That is nice to see.
Jeremiah just came in to take a picture of me. I paused, let him take several until he got it right... Here is the one that finally came out...
There are other indicators of where my dad is at lately...
In his bedroom I see...
Objects on the dressers...
Someone told me that he claims to be a Buddhist... The little bowl of offered rice in front of the picture of my sister, the incense and candles... I suppose he might be.
I have mixed feelings about that.
But I am glad to see that he may be thinking about things beyond the world he has built for himself.
I know that when I was a kid he did go to that church on the corner with us, that he seemed to have a faith in a risen Christ.
Perhaps... Maybe... I don't know.
There is a little figurine of a man kneeling before a cross on his dresser...
I've never been able to tell my dad much. And the things I would have to say about faith which might lead him to a closer relationship with my Lord are things he already knows (he once told me about a trucker friend of his who was always trying to get him to go to a biker's church).
I may not be able to tell him much, but perhaps I can show him a little.
I can show him how I feel about him. I can show him my relationship with my boys. I can show him my relationship with God...
And in the few hours between his arrival from Thailand, and his departure at the lasered starting line in the Mojave Desert, I can show him the primary commands of my Lord: love God, love others.
So... the boys have finished their showers, they are sitting beside me starting their breakfast of cold cereal (typical guy approach to feeding ourselves, right?), and I need to get the laundry started.
We are off to some huge mall and then to do the couch potato thing at my friend's.
I am looking forward to getting away from the crowds and pavement... from the aggressive drivers, and the freeways which turn into glaciers of metal and plastic at 4:00 each afternoon, ribbons of hate coursing through the city.
I am looking forward to open spaces and natural beauty and solitude. I think that once we get clear of Southern California I will find a place where I can spend an hour or so with God.
And in that place on the far side of my dad's strange journey to find fame in the desert, I can draw a little nearer to the father who offers me a relationship that is simple... a relationship that has only the complications in it that I bring.