My people are more intellectual in nature.. Contemplation and curiosity seem to run deep but more formal things like prayer and labeled religions aren’t what we seem to gravitate towards. Some of us judge it all; some of us seek compassionate understanding. Nonetheless, we’re all on a path of some kind and from what I can tell, the bulk of my people are kind and that’s the only real thing I care about anyway.
My dad in particular avoids the labels and the structured beliefs… his mind is scientific and literal, the stories of the bible and the actions of the self-declared holy people confuse and infuriate him. I don’t debate him, often I can’t even disagree.
We recently had a talk about prayer and he tries to soften his disdain by saying people should do whatever makes them feel better.. but his actions and follow-up language reveal his true belief that people who pray, who need a God are somehow inferior. He’s my dad, of course I don’t want him to see me that way.
My dad and I, we never discuss my beliefs.. I allow him to believe whatever he wants about me, I’m very cautious and non-committal. I can’t compete with his logic, not for a second, so I don’t try. I often feel like I’m not myself around him, like I couldn’t share or show him who I really am… but I can tell he’s intrigued by me. He sees my actions in the world, the relationships and friends I have, he see’s the fruitage of my life and he constantly recognizes how happy he observes me to be and I can feel his curiosity about it all. He desires these results, even if he’s unwilling to open to new ideas unless they are grounded in raw fact.
He see’s something he does not have. I can’t say to him, “try this” and I can’t even open up much about what influences me or how I see the world…. I am much more comfortable with mystery than he is and my answers only go so far, I don’t need further explanation or understanding but he most certainly does.
Mystery is not ok by him and I live in it.
Like us all he’s getting older everyday but his age is accelerating faster than most and I feel a growing urgency for us to really know each other. I’m motivated by his unhappiness.. Something that is palpable when in his presence for more than 5 minutes.. at least to me.
I spend my time with him listening. I want to help but get lost in the how because our brains don’t work the same way.
I’ve taken to a new approach recently; each time we’re together I commitment myself to two “reveals” of my true self… a few trips ago I finally let him see my tattoo’s and showed him pictures of me traveling the world in holy lands that anyone can tell I’m interested in. We don’t talk in-depth, he never inquires further than I offer and he prefers to change the subject.. but I at least give him the opportunity to see parts of me both internally and externally.
This most recent time with him, I left a Rumi quote I’d written on my chalkboard wall “what you seek is seeking you” and I allowed him to see it and I watched him think it thru. In the past I would have erased it, wiping clean who I am.. Thankfully I now recognize that to really love him I must show him who I am and allow what to be, be. It’s really hard.. he pulls in my driveway and I look out the window frozen in fear.. worried about the anticipated judgment even though I can’t remember once receiving any from him… the story lines I’ve written on his behalf are ridiculous and don’t serve me.
I’m grateful for this awareness.
His happiness is so profoundly missing; the urgency in me to connect is growing by the day. I know he alone must walk whatever path he’s on but I also am keenly aware that we all inspire and influence each other and if I can be of service to him I’d do whatever it takes. I’d love him to wrap up this life with a little happiness and I want to help…. it feels like a small gift I could repay for the life and influence he gave me.
I don’t yet know where to find the courage but I notice that courage is very much like Lego’s.. things build upon each other and one little block turns into a city.. each time I reveal who I am and my world with him doesn’t blow up, I can reveal even more because I have evidence that it’s all ok.
My daughter is the reason I have the courage to even try this. As I watched her pull away headed to college and life, I realized that all I really want is to know her and nothing makes me happier than knowing who she really is, how she thinks and feels and sees the world. I never even consider if I agree with it or approve of it or even like it, I am just overcome with happiness at the beauty of her and all that defines her. I know my dad would feel the exact same way and I realize to help him discover the happiness he so clearly needs, I can begin by showing him more of who I am.
Then I realize, this is what we all need from each other… to reveal ourselves entirely so that everyone can clearly see the God of their understanding.
My prayer is for us to all reveal ourselves authentically; everywhere, and I pray we all learn to see each other in non-judgment.
Peace and happiness would be the immediate result.
If my dad finds out I pray, I pray for the courage to say to him that Prayer is just an acceptance that we don’t know everything.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know whom you’re praying to. The very act of asking for help allows the heart to open and invite the world in.” Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel.