The Heart of the Matter

An icy wind strafes the South Texas desert as we grab our backpacks and walking sticks. Our guide, Kelly Timmons, has just briefed us on the steepness of our descent to see the White Shaman Mural, a famous example of prehistoric rock art. Kelly volunteers with the Witte Museum which now oversees the preserve, and her sense of responsibility for all of us is palpable.

As we turn to go, she notices two service pins on my jacket.

“You’re a Master Naturalist?” she asks.

“Yes,” I reply. “I completed my training last year.”

“I’ve done the training also,” she says. “I just need to finish my volunteer hours. It will be great having you on this hike. I don’t know as much as I should. I’m sure you’ll be able to point out a lot of features to us.”

I smile, but inwardly I wince. Unlike many other Master Naturalists, I am not a walking encyclopedia of taxonomy. I often rely on others to help me identify animals and plants. My specialty is to offer a strong back at work parties, as well as my writing and editing skills for our newsletter. I’m learning but I often feel inadequate.

As we begin the decline into the canyon, two things are clear. One, Kelly is at home in the desert, walking with a lively, athletic stride. Two, she is modest about her knowledge. Though she apologizes for not knowing the names of a few species, her other observations enrich our hike. She shows us resurrection plants brought to life by recent rain, as well as leatherstem, also called sangre de drago (dragon’s blood) because of its red sap. She describes the many uses of the agave lechugilla by native people. She points out clear imprints of rudist and turritella fossils.

“It’s amazing,” I say, “that we are standing on what was once the ocean floor.”

She nods, scans the vista, takes a deep breath. A huge smile comes to her face.

Down we go, then up a ladder-like set of steps to the cliffside alcove sheltering the mural. It is stunning! Only its original creators know the fullness of its meaning, but Kelly and her co-guide, Lacy Finley, describe the prevailing theories—part origin myth, part solar and lunar calendar. What I find fascinating is that the celebrated central figure is most likely the Lunar Goddess, decapitated and adorned with snakes. The Aztecs had a similar violent myth that described the triumph of the sun over the moon. Lacy recounts how archaeologists climbed down to the mural on the winter solstice. Exactly at sunset, a shadow fell across the neckline of that goddess. It gives me shivers!

Just prior to our return, we have a few moments to examine the mural more closely, taking turns photographing and marveling. I walk to the edge of the alcove and scan the panorama. In the distance, beyond beautiful cliffs, is the Pecos High Bridge—a monumental trestle above the Pecos River near its intersection with the Rio Grande.

Kelly joins me.

“It’s breathtaking, isn’t it?” she says.

Then she sighs contentedly.

“This is my happy place,” she says, and the depth of her love for this desert environment—its  plants and animals, its human and geologic history—is nothing short of contagious.

I think to myself: this is the heart of the matter. Master Naturalists can share copious head knowledge about the natural world. That’s important. The science is not only fascinating; it is key to understanding ecosystems and their preservation.

But on a deeper level, what we impart is our joy of immersion in nature. We communicate our gratitude for its rejuvenating power. As pioneer environmentalist Rachel Carson once said, “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”

Back in the parking lot before departing, Kelly and I bump elbows (COVID-style) rather than shake hands. I thank her for the excellent tour, but later I regret not praising her for conveying that deeper love at the heart of the matter.

Hopefully, she’ll read this post. Thank you, Kelly!

The Necessity of Wildness

This past summer of 2020, my crowdfunding campaign for this book supported the Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne, Texas. It was a creative way to volunteer during the pandemic, and I’m grateful to everyone who joined that effort. Now, I offer the volume for free. The first link allows you to view it as a flip book. The second link will give you a PDF download. The front and back covers are at the bottom. I hope your 2021 is blessed with many hours of rejuvenating time in nature!

The Necessity of Wildness (flip book version)
The Necessity of Wildness (PDF version)

I Found Him Through the Spore Drive

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook: “So, two hours ago I rent 12 Monkeys on Amazon Prime and suddenly, out of the blue, Terry Gilliam shows up for the first time in my newsfeed.”

Yep. We’ve all experienced it. Laser targeting.

Netflix’s documentary The Social Dilemma confirms the worst about our online surfing. Every click, every preference runs through complex algorithms so that advertisers can pinpoint us for profit. This includes the clickbait articles on our feeds, tailored to our world views. In chilling detail, the film shows how social media has contributed not only to fake news, but to our continued polarization. Literally, two people can sit down at a coffee shop, flip open their laptops, then browse through alternate versions of the world, all of it presented as fact.

That’s the dark side of our addiction to the internet. However, I want to celebrate how it connects us to far-flung places and people.

I liken it to the Spore Drive in Star Trek: Discovery. A network of mycelium spread across the universe, allowing explorers to instantaneously travel from one point to another, as though miraculously teleported. The Discovery’s Captain, Gabriel Lorca, described it this way: “Imagine a microscopic web that spans the entire cosmos. An intergalactic ecosystem. An infinite number of roads leading everywhere.”

What a wonderful metaphor for the world wide web! I often marvel where it takes me, especially through neural networks like Instagram. Daily, I connect with people from every continent. Their photos celebrate life, love, travel and art. There is joy and pathos, faith and doubt, woe and wonder—a colorful panorama of life on our planet.

The other day, I encountered a video streaming some provocative words. Did the videographer write them, or is it someone else’s poetry? I entered the Spore Drive and found the origin, a piece called Scheherazade by Richard Siken, from his collection Crush, winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize in 2004. He wrote it after the death of his boyfriend. I find it haunting and provocative.

Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake
and dress them in warm clothes again.
How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running
until they forget that they are horses.
It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,
it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio,
how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days
were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple
to slice into pieces.
Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it’s noon, that means
we’re inconsolable.
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.

Who is Siken? Again, the Spore Drive, this time Wikipedia. He is the recipient of numerous grants and residencies over the years, founder of Spork Press, and released a second book of poems in 2015 called War of the Foxes.

Finally, I learned that he suffered a stroke in 2018. I found his Facebook page which chronicles his struggle to recover, including his first poetry post in two years.

I sent him a friend request, this bard I discovered through the Spore Drive.

Whether or not he responds, I hope he regains his strength. I hope he continues to share his gift.

Jesus is the Treason for the Season

Despite the cautions about discussing religion or politics at family gatherings, we served up heaping helpings of both on Thanksgiving. The debate was lively, and a consensus gradually emerged. Religion in any form can breed fanaticism, closed minds, judgment of others. I use this italicized word on purpose: no one’s religious truth should trump someone else’s.

One of my sons said, “It can even be risky to take children to Sunday School. They might get indoctrinated before they learn to make choices for themselves.”

That’s a mouthful from someone raised as a preacher’s kid. And…he has a point.

Early experience of a  faith community can be wonderfully grounding for children. We can expose them to concepts of unity, service, and love for the human family, especially those who differ from us.

But let’s face it. Critical thinking skills don’t fully emerge until adolescence. Until then, when we present myth and absolute truth backed by authority figures and worship, how can children sort it out? How can they know that the way offered to them is just one of many beautiful options on this planet?

Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, often spoke of the  “post-hypnotic trance” induced in our youth. The weight of what we are taught and how we are treated too often numbs us to our authentic identities.

My parents (God bless them!) had me confirmed in the Lutheran tradition. The task was to memorize and confess the right beliefs. The presiding pastor never encouraged us to think for ourselves, to test every truth in the laboratories of our lives. No one spoke about the sanctity of individual conscience.

That’s why, in my years as a pastor, I approached confirmation classes from a vastly different perspective. Yes, we surveyed the history of Christianity. We examined the scope of the Bible and its genres. We even outlined the polity of our denomination. But we clearly emphasized some central truths. Question authority! Think for yourself! Don’t adopt someone else’s faith unless it makes sense to you!

Which brings me to Christmas. The quaint stories of a pregnant virgin, choirs of angels, and a star spotlighting Bethlehem, arise from the wells of legend. In my childhood, these myths were enthralling. I could feel the breathless expectation of the Messiah’s birth, as if nothing in history made sense before that moment. It, and later the cross, became portals to ultimate meaning.

With a subterranean sigh, I think of how much time and energy it took to unlearn what they taught me. To realize that all faith systems are attempts to apprehend this mystery in which we live. To critically examine holy writings from historical and literary viewpoints. To move from an exclusive faith to one that embraces the journey of every human being, no matter how different from my own.

Yesterday, I saw a familiar sign on someone’s front lawn: Jesus is the Reason for the Season. I don’t know the residents of that home, but I have met too many who insist on this slogan as a cultural mandate. We all know the litany. The myths of scripture, including Christmas, are inerrant historical truth. Jesus is the only way to God. Being Christian means being right. Be saved or be damned.

For me, Christmas is a time to reclaim what it is about Jesus and his message that still guide my journey. His anti-materialism. The way he challenged his own people’s nationalism and religious arrogance. His counterculture stories that still burrow into our souls. His love for the disenfranchised. His victory in forgiving his enemies while they executed him on a hill outside the walls of Jerusalem.

As the Presbyterian Brief Statement of Faith says, that cherubic baby in the Bethlehem manger would grow up to be “unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition.”

That’s why, in good conscience, I can still enter into his story.

Jesus is the treason for the season!

Lovecraft Country and the Great “I Am”

HBO’s Lovecraft Country, based on Matt Ruff’s provocative novel, is not for the faint-hearted. Part sci-fi, part horror, it features savage monsters and a copious spilling of blood. But its plot, its cast, and its exposé of America’s horrific racism are gripping!

One of the characters is Hippolyta Freeman, a brilliant woman adept in mathematics and astronomy. She is also a devoted mother and wife to her late husband George, having worked with him to produce The Safe Negro Travel Guide, a fictional counterpart to The Negro Motorist Green Book.

After George’s death, Hippolyta embarks on a multidimensional voyage of self-discovery. She unlocks the secrets of an orrery, takes the key it offers, then travels to Mayfield, Kansas, the place where George died. There, within an observatory, she finds a machine right of out of H.G. Wells that fits her key. It launches her to what seems like a space ship, where a towering black woman looms above her.

“Who are you?” asks Hippolyta. The woman answers, “I Am.” “Am I in prison?” asks Hippolyta.  “No, you are not in a prison,” responds the woman. “Name yourself! Where do you want to be?”

What follows is a beautiful journey of a soul becoming unbound. Hippolyta first goes to Paris to dance alongside Josephine Baker, letting the sisterhood and bohemian nightlife unwind her. She tastes new freedom, and at first it angers her. She describes it this way to Baker:

“All those years I thought I had everything I ever wanted, only to come here and discover that all I ever was was the exact kind of Negro woman white folks wanted me to be. I feel like they just found a smart way to lynch me without me noticing a noose … Sometimes I just, I wanna kill white folks. And it’s not just them … I hate me, for letting them make me feel small.”

Hippolyta then zooms to a dimension where she learns swordplay, preparing her to command a band of Amazons (fitting given her name). She leads her sister warriors into a savage victory against Confederate soldiers. Finally, she revisits George in a touching bedroom scene, this time confronting him with an awareness that she diminished herself by always putting him and his activities first.

In each of these realms she connects with an essential part of herself, naming it, giving it flesh, setting it free in the constellation of her personality. And each time, what sparks the transition is her acclamation of “I am Hippolyta. I am Hippolyta. I am …HIPPOLYTAAAAAA!” 

Yes! I am!

Discovering the sacred nature of our own humanness is at the core of our planet’s best spiritual teachings. This dawning realization awakens our unique identities. We learn to cast off shackles, employ our gifts, actualize our destinies. It is from this sacredness that we come to cherish and protect the Imago Dei, image of God, in other human beings. Symbolically, this clarity arises as we voice the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush, claiming it for our own lives: I am what I am!

Part of the blasphemy charges leveled at Jesus in the Gospel of John came from his well-known “I Am” statements. We usually translate the Greek words ego eimi as “I am,” but they carry the connotation of “I am what I am.” One of my favorite professors, Herman Waetjen, often said that Jesus was not only intentionally voicing the name of God; he was calling each us to say “I AM” with power and dignity.  

On this level, Episode 7 of Lovecraft County, speaks to all of us in our struggles to rise above the acculturation that clips our wings and does violence to our personhood.

May we all learn to say with Hippolyta, “Now that I’m tasting it, freedom, like I’ve never known before, I see what I was robbed of back there.”

May we all learn to say with Jesus, “I am what I am!”

(For further reading, I wrote a poem called I AM that you might find interesting)

“They Want to Take Our God!”

Our neighborhood has a Facebook page, and when I saw Republican politics shaping the posts, I could have ignored it. Instead, I shared this comment about signs in my neighbors’ yards I find disturbing.

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“One of the things I love about our neighborhood is the presence of our children and youth. We see them playing in the streets, riding bikes, walking to catch the bus. Now they encounter this message: ‘God, Guns & Country.’ Three words strung together as if they make perfect, harmonious sense. I respect freedom of speech, but I keep wondering. What does this teach our youth about the state of our nation? What does it teach them about faith? Powerful words of Jesus come to mind, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’”

As expected, I got a flurry of comments. They are familiar but nonetheless chilling.

  • It was Christians that miraculously founded our country, and the Democrats want to cancel that history.
  • What about abortion? The thought of a baby’s neck snapping at nearly nine months makes me sick to my stomach.
  • We have the right to bear arms, especially to defend ourselves against a government that wants to force socialism on us. Leftists will take our guns!
  • The ungodly protests in our country are happening in cities controlled by the Left.

One woman requested a session of private messaging. She asked me to explain what I meant by my post. I told her it would require a longer conversation, but here was the gist:

“There is a brand of American Christianity that believes God favors our nation more than others. It allies itself with gun lobbyists, calls for increased expenditures on military and police, and turns a blind eye to the non-violent message of Jesus. 2,000 years ago, Jesus himself challenged the nationalism and violence of his people. These yard signs teach children that God is partial, and that God protects certain Americans by any means necessary, including violence. I believe in a God of all peoples, all nations, who ultimately desires unity and peace.”

She responded with a host of internet links cited out of context, including a ranting letter-to-the-editor published online in The Intelligencer: Wheeling News Register. I have to hand it to the author. His words are a masterpiece of religious bigotry. At his frothing crescendo, he blames Democrats for divorce, school shootings, riots, rape, unwed mothers, gangs, and the “Sodom and Gomorrah” abomination of same sex marriage.

The woman summed up her position by saying: “The Left is trying to take our God!”

Her abject fear struck me, and I think I understand some of the psychology behind it.

In his Stages of Faith, James Fowler called Stage Three a “Synthetic-Conventional Faith.” It is often enculturated into children and becomes part of their tribal identity. When its rightness is challenged, people lash out in anger and fear rather than work through doubts and ambivalence to courageously examine larger questions. They hunker down and become “defenders of the faith,” as if God need champions to protect God’s chastity.

Where does this fear come from? Fowler put it this way:

When we are grasped by the vision of a center of value and power more luminous, more inclusive and more true than that to which we are devoted, we initially experience the new as the enemy or the slayer – that which destroys our “god.”

I believe that for a moment, many “true believers” get a scary, vertiginous view of something grander, something that tugs at the threads of their conviction. Rather than moving forward, they patently reject this new knowledge and retreat to militant orthodoxy.

If this woman and I had a longer conversation, I would say, “No, we are not trying to take your God. The sanctity of each person’s faith and conscience is sacred. But if you mean that we are lifting up a vision more powerful, more luminous, more inclusive than your tribal deity, I can tell you this:

We will not stop!”

Decolonize Our Minds!

2018. As an investigative journalist, I visited the Navajo Nation. I went under the aegis of the Presbyterian Church (USA), an institution I served for decades, one that still supports “missions” among the Diné.

A question with profound implications guided me. Given how white Christians historically savaged the Navajo—armed attacks, land stealing, forced relocation to Bosque Redondo, broken treaties, reeducation centers—had my denomination learned from its past? Or (inconceivably!) does it still engage in practices that disrespect the Diné’s indigenous identity?

You can read the article here. It grieved me that one of our supported pastors, a full-blooded Navajo, called traditional beliefs of his people “the work of the Devil.” A young Navajo Park Ranger at Canyon de Chelly put it succinctly as she spoke of Christians in her extended family.

“I have attended their memorial services,” she says, “where the message is loud and clear. Unless I follow this Jesus, I have no salvation on this earth and I’m not going to heaven. I cannot accept this kind of thinking!”

One afternoon, I drove out to Shiprock Peak. In Navajo its name is Tsé Bitʼaʼí, “rock with wings,” after a mythic bird that brought the Diné to their present lands. Along a lonely stretch of desert road, I came upon this deserted building.

Decolonize
Decolonize your mind! To the Dine, this injunction has power and immediacy, a call to resist the forces of European colonialism that are still aflame in white America. But it is also a phrase that challenges each of us.

Why? Because history is repeating itself in our troubled nation. There are still malignant outposts of racism, homophobia, sexism, and nationalism in our collective psyche. It is especially crucial for white people to understand the systemic biases of privilege and to join with others as we tear them down. Yes, tear them down!

But just watch how the colonial beasts rise up! Our own president stoking racial fears with his base, many of whom call themselves Christians. People waving confederate flags, blaming the victims of police brutality, or openly spreading messages of hate. Others who think they are tolerant, but who still trumpet American Exceptionalism and the monopoly of their own brand of faith.

Quite simply, our future is at stake. We must decolonize our minds.

If you are a Star Trek fan, you remember the chilling assimilation of Jean Luc Picard into the Borg Collective. This reasonable, compassionate, free-thinking human being—sworn to protect life throughout the galaxy—becomes Locutus, a cog in the Borg mind hive.

It’s an enduring metaphor, because all of us can succumb to group-think. It happens in American classrooms where history is taught from the perspective of oppressors. It happens every time the incessant ads of corporate America convince us to become more materialistic. It happens when any racial or homophobic slur goes by unchallenged. It happens every time a politician gets us to focus on an external “enemy” rather that the inner foe of our twisted thinking. It happens every Sunday as preachers in antiquated pulpits proclaim their truth as the only way. It happens when we toe party lines—right or left—without carefully examining every tenet.

Now, as always…now, more than ever…we must decolonize our minds. Replace hatred with love, privilege with partnership, intolerance with inclusion!

The Dalia Lama is right: “A spiritual practice is a constant battle within, replacing previous negative conditioning or habituation with new positive conditioning.”

Namaste.

The American Dream belongs to…

On November 7th, 2012, the day after Barack Obama’s reelection, a cowardly, anonymous writer posted some racist vitriol. Not unusual in America. These particular words have circulated the internet since that day, attributed to various people like Franklin Graham. I’M EMBARRASSED TO SAY THAT ONE OF MY EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS SENT THEM TO ME A FEW DAYS AGO. IT IS HIS RESPONSE TO THE POSITIVE CHANGES AND HOPE RIPPLING THROUGH OUR NATION. I was both pissed off and acutely aware that any reply to my white relative would fall on deaf ears. So, what did I do? I framed them and highlighted a better message in yellow!

New collage

 

Growing Wings

Surely, you’ve heard this cry: Live from a perspective of abundance, not scarcity! It’s a rainbow truth, a call to renewal, the lodestar of many a spiritual teacher. One of my favorites, Wayne Dyer, spent a lifetime liberating people from limited thinking. As he famously said, “Change your thoughts and you change your life!”

The art with any powerful guideline is to apply it daily. This may require the painful dismantling of cultural conditioning heaped on our minds and shoulders. Personally, I have had to unburden myself from two heavy influences.

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A popular form of Christianity: I know there are Christians who uphold the essential worth of humanity. They believe that their “God” created us in “God’s image” with an inner core of goodness.

But the Christianity I grew up with—a faith practiced by millions—teaches the opposite. Focused incessantly on the “fall of humanity,” it repeats the mantra that we are born sinners, we remain sinners, and that we need a savior for our redemption. Many churches claim that they celebrate victory—the past is gone, the new has come—but this is only because an external character, Jesus of Nazareth, “paid the price” for their freedom.

My daughter calls this an “outsourcing of authority.” I agree with her. It’s a clear message that we are fundamentally flawed, lacking the inner fountain of life. Too many institutions traffic in doctrines that prescribe, control, and limit. We ALL know what can happen when we cede our power to others.

I raise a different banner. We are unique and wondrous beings. We hold within us the keys to our enlightenment. It may take many years to peel back the layers of acculturation masking our divine identities, but the effort is worth it.

Sue Monk Kidd, a woman who did the hard work of emerging from theologies of scarcity, says it beautifully with her own set of metaphors.

“Here is where our real selfhood is rooted, in the divine spark or seed, in the image of God imprinted on the human soul. The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.”

The disease model of recovery.  Alcoholics Anonymous helped me rise from the ashes of my addiction. For this, I am eternally grateful. I also sympathize with the warnings from those who have seen loved ones return to deadly compulsions. Don’t grow complacent! Once an addict always an addict! Your disease is doing pushups in the dark, waiting to pounce again if you allow it!

I still attend AA periodically. I enjoy the no-bullshit atmosphere of people who have experienced the bottom and are now increasingly grateful for life. However, there is a moment at the beginning of each meeting that makes me cringe. A member reads from the Big Book, including this phrase: “We are like men (sic) who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones.”

What a crippling of declaration of scarcity and woundedness! I have a heartfelt response to this cursed phrase.

I am not an amputee. I am not a prisoner of my disease. I am a man who has realized a stunning new power and freedom. I am flawed, certainly, but the spiritual process of my daily growth has revealed a metamorphic truth. I am not only growing new legs; I am growing new wings.

I urge you to transcend ANY familial, societal, or religious notion of scarcity that is holding you down. If a person or institution is communicating that “you are not enough,” shed those lies starting now.

I pray we will ALL learn to soar!

Unsung? Not Today!

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I first heard the word “elegy” in a high school class called Great Books. Our teacher, Bill Cole, introduced us to Thomas Gray’s beloved poem from 1750: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The poet wanders among gravestones, pondering the unsung virtues of people who lived and died in obscurity, summed up in these beautiful verses.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air
.

I have a deep affinity with those outside the limelight. People faithful to values they cherish, fighting the good fight, running their courses with courage and fidelity. During my three decades as a pastor, I gained privileged admittance to their inner circles.

An elegy is too somber on this Father’s Day, 2020. Instead, I offer this tribute to unsung fathers everywhere! Your love and labor may go unnoticed, but your character matters in the lives of your loved ones!

I had a powerful experience this week. I sat and read the entirety of my father’s memoirs, notes begun in 1950. It’s a remarkable odyssey. He grew up on a Wisconsin farm during the Depression with no running water or electricity. Decades later, he would rise to be a key player in America’s Apollo Program, then serve as the CFO of a multinational corporation.

It’s not his stellar career feats that I celebrate this morning. It’s a moment captured in these words from 1957. I was 16 months old.

I’m writing this about 9:30 p.m. after watching a program on our 21-inch TV. Marilyn has gone to a church meeting and Krin is sleeping. I can hear the hum of the refrigerator in the background and smell the blossoms of the orange trees from the grove just in back of our house.

Why did this memory move me so deeply? Because it captures a father at home with his sleeping child—ME! —keeping vigil. In the ensuing years, my Dad would sacrifice family time for work, an issue we resolved long ago in our loving relationship. But this moment in 1957 reminds me of his steadfast presence in my life.

All you fathers know what I mean. Changing diapers, braiding hair, helping with homework, reading books, cooking, paying bills, chauffeuring, listening, doctoring scrapes and bruises—all the small things that sum up faithfulness on a daily basis. You’re the best!

I also give a shout out to my ex father-in law, Don Oseid, who died many years ago. He consistently nurtured my interest in writing, acting as a mentor and second father. I remember one evening when he came to me holding an anthology open to a particular poem. It was Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden, the first black American to serve as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a title now changed to Poet Laureate.

You can read the entire poem here, a son remembering how his father, after a week’s hard labor, got the fires blazing on Sunday mornings, even polishing his son’s shoes. The final words speak volumes.

What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

To all you fathers who inhabit these offices, remaining faithful to the daily tasks of loving your children, I say…

Thank you and happy Father’s Day!