I don’t have a good memory. Scott still gives me directions
to my best friend’s house. People will be telling stories about things we did
in high school and I have no idea what they’re talking about. But there are
some things that have a way of sticking with me.
I want to share three memories I hope I never forget. All three deal with men and their sons, so bare with me.
I know I write about men and fatherhood often. Maybe I’ve watched too many J.J. Abrams shows. I think it’s for a lot of reasons, but one is that I have five sons. And so, I think about men and what it means to be one. I see the difficulties in this world for men, and perhaps I ponder what type of men my boys will be, and what examples they have around them. Thank you, Lord, for my wonderful husband.
My heart fills up with something I can’t define.
These memories will be hard to share, because I already know the beauty of them will be difficult to express. Occasionally I see the men involved and I am instantly reminded, and my heart fills up with something I can’t define. But I’ll try.
The first memory is from years ago, when The Passion was still playing in theatres. I think that was thirteen years ago. A man I recognized was there with his son. At the end of the movie, they stood up and the man put his arms around his son’s shoulders and pulled him tightly to his side. It wasn't a big deal, but how can I describe this man? He’s more muscular than a bouncer. I would hire him for a bodyguard if I ever needed one. He's like Hulk Hogan! And his son looked so small and young in the crook of his arm. They had come to the theatre to watch our Lord’s passion together. And after the trauma of this event, a father put out his arm and pulled his son close, as if to say, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
He is holding him in the palm of his hand.
Memory number two: A man I’ve seen at Mass. My mom told me his son was in a car accident and the boy was left disabled. He is in a wheelchair. Every Sunday they sit together at the front of the church. The man cares for his son during Mass without drawing any attention to himself. But anytime I have looked in their direction, the father is holding his grown son’s hand. If I could paint a picture with words I would try, but I don’t think it would translate.
In my mind I see them there, both facing the altar. The man is watching the altar, sitting beneath the crucifix that hangs from the ceiling. The son’s eyes are closed and his head is resting on the wheelchair backing. He looks peaceful and I think it's because his father has completely given him himself. He is holding him in the palm of his hand. Silently, the father tells his son, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
The third memory is when I was in the Communion line at morning Mass, in Mission. It was a few months ago. An elderly gentleman was slowly making his way to Father Joseph when something horribly awkward happened. I won’t give the details, but it hurt my heart to see it happen to him. The man stood there, unsure of what to do, I guess. I was unsure of what to do. But Father Joseph, without a thought, passed the ciborium to the altar server and made his way down to the aisle to take care of him.
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
Father Joseph was so gentle and kind as he helped the elderly gentleman. In a moment, he truly gave this man back his dignity. He did it with so much dignity and kindness I don’t think many people even knew anything had happened at all. I saw in him a dad, caring for his little boy. He became a true father to a son in need. I looked at him and, with tears welling, knew I was looking into the face of Christ. Father was telling his son, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
Each of these memories comes to mind now and then. I think of these men and their witness, their true masculinity. I think about how they are fulfilling their role to be a father, to be Christ to the people entrusted to them. They are brief moments that are hard to share, but somehow, they give me a sense of peace.
I have been given the gift of seeing Christ, while maybe he was undetected by the others around me. And I have been given the gift of
knowing that my heavenly Father is holding me closely in the palm of his hand.
He gives me himself to restore my broken dignity, and tells me, “Do not be