As Father’s Day approaches, I wonder whom I should be celebrating. Whose father? My father? The father of my children? The generic idea of fatherhood?
I’m happy to celebrate my own father, a modest man always willing to go to extra trouble to teach my brother and sister and me about things like honesty. In my case, it even involved driving me back to the movie theater after I bragged that I had not paid the full price of a ticket.
I also certainly want to celebrate Father’s Day thinking of what an excellent father my husband is as the gentle, patient teacher and supporter of our daughters as he helps one study astronomy and delights the other with customized apple pies.
But a celebration such as Father’s Day can be difficult for those whose experience does not include a father or whose relationships with their fathers were disappointing or even harmful.
This prompts me to think more deeply and more inclusively about fatherhood – in a way that brings healing – so I go to the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer given by Christ Jesus: “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). Not just my father or my daughters’ father, but the Father of all of us.
The Bible asks the question: “Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God?” (Malachi 2:10, The Message).
Thinking of “Our Father” as the one father of each of us, the origin of each of us, the Parent who loves each of us and cares for us, adds a sense of God's fathering in our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper and the author of the Christian Science textbook, describes that divine Father: “GOD. – The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 587).
All-knowing. All-seeing. All-acting. The scope is kind of breathtaking!
Thinking about this divine fatherhood becomes an affirmative prayer for me, a way of including all God’s sons and daughters in a recognition of each of us as the offspring of Spirit, the children of Love itself. There can’t be anyone left out. Whatever our circumstances, we can turn in prayer to our Father, who through His wisdom and mercy imparts to each of us the understanding of what is right – who is gently and mightily caring and ever-available to us.
So in addition to thinking of the fathering done by my dad or my husband, this Father’s Day I will be thinking of the parent of all of us: Our Father.
It’s a good way to celebrate Father’s Day.