Honoring Our Fathers


Today, and hopefully every day, we honor our fathers. Like Mother's Day I know that Father’s Day can bring with it a slew of complicated emotions and experiences. It is not always an enjoyable celebratory day.

I invite us back to Gurdjieff's notion of ‘the cost of our arising’ as something we must be aware of and even pay for. Remember, understanding ‘the cost of our arising’ is about seeing that we do not make ourselves by ourselves but rather we are a product of all that has influenced us, all that has supported and nurtured and formed who we are. A piece of paying for the cost of our arising is honoring, acknowledging and giving thanks for those who have contributed to our arising. Fathers of all kinds are in large part responsible for our arising.

Today we can honor, acknowledge and give thanks to our birth fathers who play an irreplaceable part of our arising. No matter what unmet expectations, realistic or otherwise, have transpired, fathers give of themselves to bring us into existence. Fathers have a love for their children deep in their hearts. At best this love comes through in powerful and meaningful ways.

Today we can honor, acknowledge and give thanks to our living or non-living paternal biological and spiritual ancestors who we may feel connected to and whom have offered us fathering (our grandfathers going back on both sides, as well as others, for example, mentors, Jesus, Saint Francis, Thomas Merton, Howard Thurman, and the many other saints, mystics and liberators throughout time).

Today we can honor, acknowledge and give thanks to Father Sky who sustains and nourishes us, endlessly providing air to nourish us, offering us light and life for our bodies and souls.

Today we can honor, acknowledge and give thanks to the Great Father. In the Christian tradition, God is both beyond gender and related to as Father. Luke 12:32 tenderly says, "Do not be afraid little flock, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Today we can honor, acknowledge and give thanks to ourselves and see ourselves, regardless of gender orientation, as fathers. Each one of us are fathers to each other and ourselves and commissioned by the Great Father to participate in this giving process. The act of fathering can be seen as one of emboldening our true nature; both through provision of physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs as well as instilling agency, strength, and courage to engage the challenges and juiciness of life. True fathers do all this from love practicing mutuality instead of hierarchy and oppression.

And so I honor the grief that may be present this day for those of you who never had a father, who had a father whose love toward you was blocked in some way, who have lost your father, who have always wanted to be a father to a child and have not been able to, who are fathers to children who are blocked to your love, and any other unnamed losses around fatherhood.

And from a wellspring of gratitude, having received such abundance, I say “thank you to my own father, to all physical fathers everywhere, to each one of you who participate in the act of fathering, and to the Great Father.”

May we engage the act of fathering

May we embolden others to be themselves

May we offer provision for others

May we instill agency, strength and courage

May we co-create and build afresh

May we be a way to love

With love,

Heather

 


This week, we continue with our exploration of the Beatitudes. Hold inside yourself and meditate on the fourth Beatitude as well as a few alternative translations from Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflecting on the Original Meaning of Jesus’s Words.

Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for physical justice-righteousness; they shall be surrounded by what is needed to sustain their bodies.

Aligned with the One are those who wait up at night, weakened and dried out inside by the unnatural state of the world; they shall receive satisfaction.

Integrated, resisting delusion are those who long clearly for a foundation of peace between the warring parts of themselves; they shall find all around them the materials to build it.

Spend some time in lectio divina with the one that you are most drawn to.

First, take a moment to sense your body and drop into heart. Speak the words out loud. Listen with the ear of your heart and allow yourself to be drawn to a word or phrase that touches you.

Second, speak the words aloud again. Mull what struck you around with all three centers. Reflect on the text, allowing the questions, insights, and memories to flow from your own life experience. Ask yourself what relevance or application this has to yourself, how does this touch my life at this time?

Third, speak the words aloud again. Notice your interior response to what is arising and whether there is a prayer or gesture or image that can be offered on behalf of you, others, the world, or God.

Fourth, speak the words aloud again. Rest in the stillness within, allowing all that has emerged to settle further in you in silence.

Here are some of the readings from this week:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." - John 15:12-13

This is my bequest to you- let it stir you to review your life:

Just as I have kindled a big fire from leaves and twigs in you,

just as a seed led you to full-bloomed love for me,

kindle and grow the mystery of love for each other

and for the "other" parts of self.

This way of love asks you to sacrifice your images of who you think you are,

to work inside before you respond outside,

and to consent to God's love within you.

— Translation from the Aramaic, slightly revised from "The Hidden Gospel" p. 152

"Where Dolphins Dance"

Again the work starts

as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.

Hopefully you got some good rest last night.

Why go into the city or the fields without first kissing

the Friend who always stands at your door?

It takes only a second.

Habits are human nature - why not create some that will mint gold?

Your arms are violin bows

always moving.

I have become very conscious upon whom we all play.

Thus my eyes have filled with warm

soft oceans of divine music

Where jeweled dolphins dance

then leap into this world.

— Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky

"Your Shape of Laughter"

Let these words become like a skilled potter's hands,

quieting,

soothing your life with their knowledge,

Reaching into your tender core and spreading you out

like the morning that leaps from the sun's amused wink

onto hills, brows and the backs of so many

beautiful laboring beasts.

God's duty is to make perfect

all your movements of mind, of limb,

and your ascending shape of laughter.

Watch the way my hands dance

Cutting you open with music,

reaching into your heart

and spilling the night sky-jar you carry

that is always full of giggling planets and stars

Spinning you into Love

— Slightly abridged from Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky

"Sardello points out that most of us use the terms "feeling" and "emotion" interchangeably, as if they were synonyms. They are not. Emotion is technically "stuck" feeling, feeling bound to a fixed point of view or fixed reference point. "We are not free in our emotional life. he points out, since emotion always "occurs quite automatically as a reaction to something that happens to us." It would correspond to what Helminski calls "the heart in service to the reactive ego-self."

Beyond this limited sphere opens up a vast reservoir of feelingness. Here the currents run hard and strong, always tinged with a kind of multivalence in which the hard-and-fast boundaries distinguishing one emotion from another begin to blend together. Happiness is tinged with sadness, grief touched at its bottomless depths the mysterious upwelling of comfort, loneliness is suffused with intimacy, and the deep ache of yearning for the absent beloved becomes the paradoxical sacrament of presence...

Such is the sensation of the heart beginning to swim in those deeper waters, awakening to its birthright as an organ of spiritual perception. And it would stand to reason, of course, that the experience is feeling-ful because that is the heart's modus operandi; it gains information by entering the inside of things and coming into resonance with them. But this is feeling of an entirely different order, no longer affixed to a personal self-center, but flowing in holographic union with that which can always and only flow, the great dynamism of love."

— Cynthia Bourgeault, from "The Heart of Centering Prayer" p. 64

"The Stuff of Astounding: A Poem for Juneteenth"

Unless you spring from a history that is smug and reckless, unless

you’ve vowed yourself blind to a ceaseless light, you see us. We

are a shea-shined toddler writhing through Sunday sermon, we are

the grizzled elder gingerly unfolding his last body. And we are intent

and insistent upon the human in ourselves. We are the doctor on

another day at the edge of reason, coaxing a wrong hope, ripping

open a gasping body to find air. We are five men dripping from the

burly branches of young trees, which is to say that we dare a world

that is both predictable and impossible. What else can we learn from

suicides of the cuffed, the soft targets black backs be? Stuck in its

rhythmic unreel, time keeps including us, even as our aged root

is doggedly plucked and trampled, cursed by ham-fisted spitters in

the throes of a particular fever. See how we push on as enigma, the

free out loud, the audaciously unleashed, how slyly we scan the sky—

all that wet voltage and scatters of furious star—to realize that we

are the recipients of an ancient grace. No, we didn’t begin to live

when, on the 19th June day of that awkward, ordinary spring—with

no joy, in a monotone still flecked with deceit—Seems you and these

others are free. That moment did not begin our breath. Our truths—

the ones we’d been birthed with—had already met reckoning in the

fields as we muttered tangled nouns of home. We reveled in black

from there to now, our rampant hue and nap, the unbridled breath

that resides in the rafters, from then to here, everything we are is

the stuff of astounding. We are a mother who hums snippets of gospel

into the silk curls of her newborn, we are the harried sister on the

elevator to the weekly paycheck mama dreamed for her. We are black

in every way there is—perm and kink, upstart and elder, wide voice,

fervent whisper. We heft our clumsy homemade placards, we will

curl small in the gloom weeping to old blues ballads. We swear not

to be anybody else’s idea of free, lining up precisely, waiting to be

freed again and again. We are breach and bellow, resisting a silent

consent as we claim our much of America, its burden and snarl, the

stink and hallelujah of it, its sicknesses and safe words, all its black

and otherwise. Only those feigning blindness fail to see the body

of work we are, and the work of body we have done. Everything is

what it is because of us. It is misunderstanding to believe that free

fell upon us like a blessing, that it was granted by a signature and

an abruptly opened door. Listen to the thousand ways to say black

out loud. Hear a whole people celebrate their free and fragile lives,

then find your own place inside that song. Make the singing matter.

— PATRICIA SMITH