Recently my father gave me a CD by a southern Baptist pastor about letting the past go.
If you knew the relationship between my father and I, you would find this a surprise.
Or perhaps not.
Have you ever been caught up in surprise, only to find a part of you not surprised at all? That’s my relationship with my dad. I will think, “Oh wow- we have THAT in common?…”and then immediately following that thought, I settle into some sort of “knew it all along, that’s really not surprising at all” mode of thought. So when we were talking one weekend, which is to say, when my father acknowledged that I needed to say something, and that he was aware of that need, but was not ready until now, I told him that I felt robbed of a life with him. I felt sorrow and guilt at the way I had treated him due to his misrepresentation in my life.
It’s important to note here, that blaming my father has become moot because I will never hear him apologize for his part in things. My father who openly admits to having guilt, will not admit to what causes that guilt. And, to be honest, I’m not sure his parenting, or my view of its lack, is one of those things. I don’t know if I’ve let it go, but I suppose it’s much like that pastor says, you don’t have to pick up that stone. Yet, I’m not ready to throw it in the ditch yet either. Sometimes, I just kick it idly down the path of my life…wondering what it would be like to pick it up and hurl it at someone…say my parents for instance. See? That stone is better left to lie.
The thing is, the point that I digress from as usual, is that in a moment, I again realized how alike my father and I are. How much our guilt feels the same…so maybe parenting is on his list, I suddenly think…Anyways, how alike we are. How hard we work. How that never feels like it’s enough for anyone, which only I know, roughly translates into, not good enough for me. “They” is often only me. In that moment my father sensed it too and so he offered me a gift. That CD. And I loved it. I wanted to play it for my children. For my brother. For friends. I didn’t love it because he was a pastor, or it was churchy, or I’m a good Christian, or because my father gave it to me. I loved it because it was true. I loved it like I love all things biblical, open to interpretation and befitting to most anyone willing to be open too. I loved it because I could clearly see how it fit into my life, and into my fathers- though our lives are polar opposite. I love how I can see that we both believe in Heaven and Hell, though again, differently. I can see how THOSE differences, can tear people apart now…or bring them together. How most things, if not everything, can be simmered down to two things; love and fear. Everyone can understand love and fear. My father and I understand love and fear. We love within fear most often.
The pastor says, in a very short summary, that life is a field. Your field is not my field and vice versa. He says fields are often full of stones. Those stones are moments in life. Good stones and bad stones. Stones that belong off in a ditch and stones you can use to build a foundation. Stones that will weigh you down and drown you and stones that will build you steps to step up on. When it comes to the bad stones, he literally shouts at you- “You DON’T have to pick those stones up! Put the stone down!” and then as gently as a southern man can be, he says of the good stones, “That’s a stone you can pick up. You can hold that stone.”
Sometimes when I’m driving, I listen to music. But most times, I do not. I would say that 90% of my time is noise free in the car. Also at work. It isn’t that I don’t like music, it’s that I love silence. Things, thoughts mostly, tend to creep into that silence. Stones you could say…You could say that silence is my field and often times, there seems to be some sort of troll in the field digging up the biggest, deepest stones I have and then lobbing them at my head. Direct hit. He has good aim.
For a couple of months now this reoccurring idea has entered my mind- If you watch carefully, you only have a few thoughts, over and over again. Sometimes the incessant chatter is really a repetitive chant of the same ten thoughts. My worst thoughts. Doesn’t everyone have these? Aren’t these thoughts our heaviest and most deeply buried stones?
Sometimes, up until today really, I have thought, “If they hadn’t done this, or that…” But the truth is, I would have still done whatever I did. I still do what I do in spite of what anyone else does.
The whole time I’m writing this, I keep thinking of how I used to write. How I always had some answer pulled from somewhere other than myself. Ok, maybe from me, but regurgitated through me, might better describe things. And I was always tortured by my inability to live what I wrote…Sitting here now I have this urge to be preachy and dig into the shallow recess of my mind for the textbook answers to my own questions in order to make myself seem more knowing…
But I can’t.
I’m just this woman, totally uncomfortable with using the term “woman” to describe myself, sitting in the kitchen of my home in the middle of Wyoming, pondering my life, my stones, my regrets and the death of my father, which will leave me an orphan….And I don’t know. More and more I realize that I don’t know, and when I DO know, I can see clearly that I am not living that and then I don’t know again because I don’t know why I can’t live what I know!
I know I’m smiling now…
I don’t know how to not pick up the stones. Or why I pick them up. Here’s a fun fact-
My house is full of stones. Planters full of little stones, shelves with stones, plates with stones. I’ve been collecting them since my oldest was born. 19 years of stone collecting tomorrow as a matter of fact. I even have stones left behind by my dead mother. Is that ironic? A sign? A declaration? An opportunity?
Maybe I’ll start a group called the Stone Throwers. I’ll take all my stones, or at least ten of them, write all my worst moments/thoughts on them, and chuck them as far as I can.
Or, shall I pile them all up and stand on top of them in triumph?
Perhaps use them as a foundation.
I’m open to suggestions.
My step mom, in all of her wisdom and love for my father sent me two cd’s. The pastor and one entitled, Your dads songs. It’s a cd of my father singing his favorite hymns. The definition of faith lay within his voice. I emailed my father that day:
Thank you for the CDs dad. I love them. I’m sure I’ll wear them out so I hope you’ll make more copies.
I don’t know which will be harder- putting bad stones down or not picking them back up. I also loved the tree reference- cut it down and move on.
One of the things I’ve always admired about you is your faith. Your undying, dedicated and loyal faith. You’re very introspective as well. Always looking in. Looking at yourself. I don’t know why I haven’t acknowledged that. I’ve always known you were a thinker- but I never asked what those thoughts were….
And I should have because the last time we talked I realized how alike our thoughts are.
How alike we feel things.
How much I am like you.
Anyways….I’m sitting in my car at work, crying like a baby, full of regrets and gratitude and love-
And I love you daddy.
Thank you for loving me.
To which my father replied;
Read your email. It was a lot and I’m glad it was received well. I don’t know if you will understand this, but I need some time to digest it all. It’s all good, just a little overwhelming. Hope the blessing continues for you. Love.
It’s now been 8 days since we’ve talked.