I recently revisited two of my favorite baseball movies, "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural," and I was struck by how the heart-tugging theme of an absent father was central to both.
That got me thinking. For one thing, my own dad passed on some time ago, and I miss him. For a second thing, in a way I've been an absent father of sorts to my own teenage daughter. My work causes me to travel a lot. Sometimes my daughter and I don't see each other for weeks at a time.
The good news is that (1) there are cell phones and (2) when I do come home, it's terrific. We're pals. She can count on me to listen and laugh and be there for the big events in her life (like lacrosse championships and the "Friends" season finale).
But lots of people have it rougher. Parents of one of my daughter's friends recently were divorced. Her dad isn't there the same way he was before. Several of my daughter's friends have fathers who aren't very supportive way negative, in fact.
Add to this the general picture statistics paint of widespread broken families and deadbeat dads, and you get the feeling that there are an awful lot of absent fathers of one sort or another. For many, including families affected by 9/11, this Father's Day could be the first that Dad is not here.
Is there any relief from the sadness and fear from feeling fatherless and alone? Any way to fill the void?
Roy Hobbs in "The Natural" could channel all the sorrow and love he felt for his lost dad into a special bat, which, like a mighty sword, struck baseballs with the power of lightning bolts.
Ray Kinsella in "Field of Dreams" could hear a voice that said "If you build it, he will come" and miraculously brought his dad back for one last summer-evening catch on an Iowa farm.
But these are movies. Though emotionally uplifting, they present larger-than-life forms of solace and reconciliation you can only find in fiction. What about reality?
One of the things that helps me and my family in this as in all matters is a spiritual perspective. In fact, I have my dad to thank in large measure for this. He raised me to think of God, the invisible divine Spirit, as my true Father-Mother.
God, the underlying tender divine Principle of the universe, is the source of life-giving, life-supporting qualities strength, stability, warmth, courage, action, and approval. Power, protection, and intelligence spring from God. God, infinite Mind, divine Love, is your Father and mine. And God is always present. Right here, right now.
I've experienced the practical, calming, difficulty-melting power of this metaphysical concept in my life. So has my wife. We've passed it on to our daughter. We want her to know that while she can count on us, there will be times when we're not around. She can start right now to look confidently to God for everything lasting and good she needs in her life. As one of her favorite bedtime Bible prayers says, "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4).
What this says to me is that the source of my life, my daughter's life, your life, everyone's life, is God. God made me, formed me. God breathes contentment and peace into my life. I can think of myself not as the way I appear with my eyes an oppressed, imperfect product of human flesh and blood but as the way I know I am in my heart. I'm God's child, a child of the infinite, spiritual, complete, and free, safe, watched over, and loved.
Not just individuals but nations, too, can benefit from the assurance that divine Spirit is the one ever-present, almighty Father of us all. The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, put it this way: "With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pgs. 469470).
Let's expect to see and feel His authority, presence, and love take tangible, merciful shape in every aspect of our interconnected lives. And turn darkness into light.