As I write this I am interstate for my Dad’s Big 0 celebration. As his birthday and Father’s Day are usually very close together, we have never really celebrated Father’s Day other than to say it on the day. Twice now I’ve been “hanging upside down” in the other hemisphere when they have celebrated Father’s Day, and because it has resulted in me missing my Dad I’ve sent him Father’s Day wishes, only to be asked Why? and be told that 1 Father’s Day a year is already one too many.
When I was studying Children’s spirituality, one of my fellow classmates was a Korean born father of 2 very young girls, He told me that they only celebrated Parenting Day in his birth culture, and did not differentiate between mothers and fathers parenting role.
At the shopping centre I stopped to talk to a woman with a 3 year old in tow, who was looking for a “father’s Day card” that didn’t say Father’s Day for her partner. Yes we did find one.
All of this made me think of God, the God I often refer to as Father, the God that goes by many names. I was asked once by my spiritual supervisor to explain why I always refer to God as He. My answer seemed to floor her, when I said in French every noun is assigned a masculine or feminine definer it doesn’t mean that they are truely male or female. God for me is God.
My Dad, sews, knits, and cross-stitches, he also makes timber toys and furniture and grows vegetables, I could easily go from Mum to Dad for help or answers. We did not have male or female chores in my birth family, everyone was expected to do whatever chore was assigned, from ironing, washing, to mowing or putting out the garbage. I don’t think of sexism as a concept it had to be taught to me.
I appreciated learning about Feminist Theology because it opened my eyes to the riches of God as found in the Feminine, just as I had appreciated Liberation Theology and even more so the Child Theology Movement for the broadening of my understanding of God. To see God through different eyes. But God is still God, these “eyes” just open mine to the breath and majesty that my own shortcomings hold me too.
I appreciate that even though we are made in God’s image there are times when our parents fall short of our own needs and this is when the perfection of God’s parenting of us infills the holes so often left gaping in our lives. K. Rahner wrote in his Theological Investigations Vol.8 (London, Daarten, Longman and Todd, 1971), “We may take the case of one who has never been able to realise in this way what a close relationship with his father means, one which he has felt that he could absolutely rely upon to provide him with love, protection and security. It is precisely such a one as this who can only succeed with difficulty in achieving that idea of God’s fatherhood”.
At some stage in my studies I came across a study that strongly indicated that it was the family units where the Father strongly led the family in faith that had the greatest possibility of producing children who own that faith into their adulthood ( I am hoping someone reading this will remember this study and pass that information back to me so that I can properly annotate it.) I loved this idea as Father’s have often indicated to me that there is so much emphasis on the mother’s role that they feel superfluous. Let me make it plain and loud, you are an important part of children’s faith formation.
Biblically we have many images of Father’s from the imperfect to the caring. Jarius’s father comes to mind in the Gospels, Lot left with his daughters, Noah, Abraham, Laban, and the list is not exhausted. The Bible has many stories to help guide our parenting as we learn from the faith tradition stories, so much older than our own wisdom.
Dear Father’s may you search and share the wisdom older than your own understanding. May it guide your future and prepare the future generations for their turn. Amen