My Father’s Blessing

When I toddled into the kitchen one Saturday morning,
my father was eating breakfast.
I stared at him, rubbing my eyes in astonishment.
“You comed back!” I exclaimed.
He opened his arms and I ran to him,
not quite believing he was real
until his arms closed around me
and he nuzzled my face with his stubbly cheek,
ten thousand tiny whiskers prickling my skin.

Dad was a student minister then,
and I saw him only on weekends.
He spent the week in Denver, studying theology,
then on Friday night he rode the bus back home
to our lonely outpost somewhere in Kansas.
His absence was like the absence of God:
“He’s there, but you just can’t see him,”
my father explained.

When he was older and wiser,
my father shocked me by saying,
“I don’t need to defend God;
God can take care of himself.”
He put his Bible on the bookshelf
and started preaching from The Denver Post.
One day he raged that another convicted murderer
had been executed in a neighboring state’s electric chair.
He ended his sermon on Sunday with a question:
“Would Jesus Christ pull the switch?”

Of all my father’s sermons,
I remember only this fragment,
and I hold on to it fiercely,
the way I once held the blessed bread
of Holy Communion, so I wouldn’t drop it,
or the way my young father held me
when he came home on weekends,
nuzzling my face with his stubbly cheek,
ten thousand tiny whiskers prickling my skin.

© 2011 by Magical Mystical Teacher

Posted on June 19, 2011, in family, Father's Day, my poetry. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. i have ten thousand goosebumps and my heart is reeling.
    this is so raw and wonderful. so teaming with love and understanding.
    so lovely to read something out of the haiku format and be swept into the story that is
    your life.

    thank you so much.
    i am honored beyond words.

  2. You took my breath away with your story/poem. I wish I had heard a sermon by your dad, a man I think I would resonate with to preach God’s word.

  3. I thoroughly agree. I am moved beyond words at this story. It reveals an intimate relationship between father and daughter that transformed over time but never lost its original depth or heart. It is truly beautiful. Your father’s sermons became discussions of social justice and focused on social ills. I see that as spiritual growth. He used what he knew of theology to defend mankind. He sounds like a wonderful person and you obviously love him very much.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    Noelle

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