Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What I Wanted to Say

Mid October. I love the wind. It's still dark, as I write, but the sun will be coming along any time. It seems I pulled an all-nighter. My son called, you see. And I am in a mellow and contented mood. Happy, you might say. Yes, that's what it is. Happiness.

We talked for one hour fifty-six minutes and sixteen seconds. God I love him.

He's in Baghdad. Busy man, he is, but found some time to give his dear old dad a call. What did we talk about? Well that's sort of personal, don't you think? -- just a little intrusive? I think you might have crossed a line, with that question. But you are a friend, and while I won't indulge your idle curiosity, I will overlook your social gaff.

I'll share this, though. I am so thankful that I have a son. I am an odd man, frankly strange. Not suited for this world. But I was a really good father. I remembered, you see, how damaging harshness can be, and I lived up to my desperate resolution not to do to him what was done to me. Melodramatic, I know, but you know that about me, after all this time. And you smile indulgently at my quirks. We are friends, after all. So my boy turned out all right. He seems even to be much less, uh, arrogant, now. Maturity, don't you know. I knew it would happen. I was nearly forty before I learned to tone it down. He's still in his early twenties. But he has a very serious job, in the military. In a place where forgetting a battery can cost lives, boys become men.

But that's not what I wanted to say.

There's a scene in the movie, Forrest Gump. A line, really. I'm an emotional guy. You may not even know that about me, despite all the time we've spent together. I don't hide it -- I just don't show it. I fall in love easily. Not romantic love. Not sex love. Tenderness and fond-feeling love. I love the guys I roll with. I loved my students. I love strangers who show a generous spirit. I love anyone who does what is noble and self-sacrificing. I was reminded in talking with my son how much Jesus deserves to be loved. And because Jesus deserves love, so does God.

But that's not what I wanted to say.

There Forrest Gump is, discovering he has a son. How awkward. And he says something like, "I was afraid he'd be like me." You can't see it, through these words, but I'm a little emotional right now. It's not that I'm hiding it. I just don't show it. You see, I was afraid he'd turn out like me. But he didn't. You have no idea how thankful I am for that. He's normal.

I don't know what God feels pride in. In himself, of course ... well, yes, I do know what he feels pride in. In his son. Of course. I was thinking, what, this universe? Pride in this crappy universe? But it started out perfect. That it's ruined is sort of our fault -- but isn't that a design flaw? No, actually -- part of the plan. So, yes, even in this gawky, adolescent stage of the universe, where it is nothing but spotty and self-centered rebelliousness, there is cause for God to feel pride. Isn't it funny -- Jesus was the son who wasn't Prodigal, yet is most favored. True, he lived with us pigs, but he was the faithful son who toiled for his father's profit. The child, the creation that was prodigal -- well, that's us, and this horrid wretched vile universe. But fathers love even their bad children. And they can, albeit rarely, feel pride even in their bad sons.

The son that I raised, honors me through his character. He blesses me through his intelligence and common sense. Even if he were corrupt and stupid, I'd love him. I have loved corrupt people. But right now I am flushed with thankfulness. I made this. I made this young man. He is mine. I shaped him. And I did a good job. But I am nothing but thankful. Because I just got lucky. I've just been lucky, so far. And any good thing that I did, I was just lucky to do. So there is pride, and there is no pride. There is pride, and humility. I've outgrown arrogance, for the most part ... I've seen the hindparts of my soul, and if you think there are no monsters, I'm here to tell you different. So yes, I got lucky. And I'm thankful. And proud. But I'm nothing but thankful.

That's what I wanted to say. I wanted to tell you how lucky I am. How blessed. Why tell you? Well, you're my friend. Of course I tease you. You tease me. We don't have to be perfect. We're better than that. What we don't understand about each other, we accept on faith. And we like each other, and we enjoy each other. So I will take pleasure in your happiness. I will rejoice in your joy. I won't be effusive -- it's not my way -- but I'll smile, and nod, and be quiet, and you'll know, because you know me, that I'm glad for you, and I'm blessed in your blessing. When we remember this about each other, the world becomes bright, and the morning wind sings with joy, and love floods over us the way the sun fills the sky with light.

See? I was right. The sky is waking up. Good morning, my dear friend. Good day.



Kirsten N. Namskau said...

I think you have been a very good father...and that's why you have got such a grate son. Honors to both of you.

Rantin' Ron said...

Well said. I too am blessed and...a bit strange. I pray your son stays safe over there.