As spring rolled into summer I began once again my annual journey back onto my bicycle and out into the country side. And it gives me time to see and think about the land that has been so much a part of my life. We have moved around some over the years but mostly all in the mid-west. So I am used to the annual happenings of the farm with planting, working, and eventually harvesting. It is this time of year that I always get a little surprise. The field I drive by to work each day "suddenly" has corn that is 2-3" tall! Yesterday just a mere planing and then today BAM! Of course it is not like that and it is my own lack of awareness and failure to pay attention that allows those plants to sneak up on me like that. But here we are again in the midst of that growing season and it makes me appreciate the land and the people who work it.
A week or so ago I did a ride with my daughter Emma and a friend up near Solon Iowa. We went out around 6:00 PM and did a little over 20 miles of rolling hills and beautiful landscapes. And I have to say it was one of the most beautiful rides I remember. The wind was mild, no bugs, humidity low, and all of the countryside was exploding with green. It was truly spectacular and I was so grateful to be able to take time to be in it in that way and to share it with friends.
And then there are the rains. What can be more beautiful than a solid summer rain? One that breaks the humidity and heat. One that offers relief not only to ourselves but all of the land, plants and animals we share this space with. The freshness and coolness it brings to hot, tired, and often worn out bodies. The rides and the land and the rain have all helped remind me to slow down a bit. To pay attention and try to take in the special moments that exist in our lives and appreciate the natural and wonderful beauty that is all around us.
This beauty can also include our families and yes, even our fathers. No father-son/daughter relationship is perfect. And none of us as fathers are perfect. We cause harm, pain, or anger even when trying to do good. George still reminds me of all the trauma I have inflicted upon him over the years for a multitude of events. But so it goes. But even in our/their imperfection there can be good. And maybe like the landscapes we see it is good to try to try to step back and to see the strengths that are there, the positives, and the good that was shared along the way.
I have worked in and around the criminal justice system and prisons for many years. Often when I have worked with clients and we are working on taking next steps, issues of fatherhood come up. Both in their own role as a father but also in their relationship with their father. Many times those relationships will never get corrected or reach that ideal spot. Like everything they are imperfect and a work in progress (assuming all parties are willing to do the work!). So in the midst of that imperfection what do we do? No answers but I offer this poem, which is a favorite of mine and one I have found to be very powerful......
How Do We Forgive Our Fathers? by Dick Lourie
How do we forgive our Fathers? Maybe in a dream Do we forgive our Fathers for leaving us too often or forever when we were little?
Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all.
Do we forgive our Fathers for marrying or not marrying our Mothers? For Divorcing or not divorcing our Mothers?
And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning for shutting doors for speaking through walls or never speaking or never being silent?
Do we forgive our Fathers in our age or in theirs or their deaths saying it to them or not saying it?
If we forgive our Fathers what is left?
Happy Father's Day to all and many happy rains in the future.