It was on a Sunday when we sang the beautiful hymn, "This is My Father's World" at church in recognition of it being Fathers Day. After coming home I asked him why we sing about God as our father while we celebrate Fathers Day for him, my father here on earth. Before answering, he pondered for a moment, contemplating how he should best answer the question.
After a short delay, he laughed as he simply explained, "Well, Son, you have two fathers but for two special and unique reasons. One is in heaven and then I am here with you on earth. But really, you need to be older to really understand the full reason so I'll just let you think about it on your own and we'll talk about it later when you are more mature."
Sadly, we never had that conversation as he died unexpectedly a short time later. And while the answer he gave me provided a good foundation to think from as I reached my teen years, I knew that a wanted a more thorough answer now that I was older and could understand better. Dad was right by leaving it as he did earlier and now the time had come where I was better able to understand the full scope of the two father concept. The appropriate time came in my first year at Newport News High School, the downtown school just down the street from our family's church, First Presbyterian. The minister there, Dr. Paul Buckles was an outgoing man who always watched over me without me even knowing it after Dad died. He did, however, tell me as I started my new school that any time I had questions about faith or wanted an adult ear to stop by whenever his big black Chrysler was out front.
One afternoon as I walked up to Washington Avenue to catch the late bus home after school, I did just that and as I knocked on his study door, Dr B. greeted me warmly. I told him about my discussion a few years earlier with my Dad and how he left the question partly open. I wanted to know what this fine man of the cloth thought.
He thought about it for a moment and then said, "Well, Son, your dad gave you a good answer but at that time he didn't think you would appreciate the true depth of what it means and I think he was probably right. But now you're older and since he's not here let me tell you how I see it. Jimmy, you are a special young man and God loves you. God, in fact, as the creator of the earth and all living things, including us is therefore the Father of all of us. He's my father, your father, your parents' father, everyone's father. To make you human, however, and not a God like Jesus, he needed you to have two human parents, so He gave each of your parents the gift of being able to create you together as their child while you and they were also the children of God. The relationship is different from the relationship with God, but it is still very special since they are tasked with the responsibility of raising you as a faithful servant of God so that when you go out into the world you will know Him and love Him. And it's really just as simple as that."
It was like the light came on and the church bells were ringing as the big picture fell into place and I realized exactly why Dad didn't want me to tell me too much too soon. I had to be old enough to understand how things all fell into logical place. And it comforted me and warmed my soul and it has never been forgotten.
So, to me it says that I must not only celebrate tomorrow in honor of my birth father, but also my Father by creation and it makes me and you, too, doubly blessed. Happy Fathers Day, everyone.