A Small Reflection for Father’s Day and Beyond: Courtesy of James Michener

"I hope this is me in 40 years" Photo by J.B. Hill, via Flickr.com under Creative Commons License
"I hope this is me in 40 years" Photo by J.B. Hill, via Flickr.com under Creative Commons License

Father’s Day and all that means raises a lot of memories for so many of us. Father-son and daughter relationships are always interesting. Just check out literature, mythology or the Bible. Of course, for our generation we are discovering the life stage of grand father and, in many cases, reshaping that as well.
We sometimes look back and try and see the world through our dad’s experience. As time passes, it gets a little harder. My dad died many years ago (1990) but his voice is still very present. His advice, given to me on the day of my Ordination from HUC-JIR that “no matter what you do, there is no substitute for hard work”, stuck with me to this day.
Dads help negotiate the roads of life. Sometimes we do not realize the correctness of their advice until we experience life and then, often times, we stop and consider that he was pretty smart. So, in keeping with a sense of perspective, and perhaps channelling some advice we have given to our own kids, I wanted to write up the following quote from a 1971 Michener book called “The Drifters”. I read it during my Michener phase while at seminary. The book, now a little dated, speaks to a generation of young people in the 60s who go in search of themselves. It spoke to a generation. A narrator, an older man who befriends this band of drifters, is in conversation with them during a sojourn into Portugal. As the young people begin to see themselves in a new light, the narrator comments on life’s journey. I remember reading this as a rabbinic student and this paragraph made an impact. In re-reading the book now, the same paragraph touched new emotions.
“But the neat trick in life is not to negotiate the years from seventeen to twenty-five. Anyone can do that, and apparently it is a lot easier than I once thought. The problem is to build something that will sustain you from thirty five to sixty. Finding some kind of work that gives you pleasure. Finding someone…you can live with through the tough years. Finding a way to rear children. Most of all, keeping your sanity and dedication.” If we are lucky, dads have helped negotiate this for us and if we are also luck, we have, as dads, helped our kids. Not a bad message to reflect upon.
Rabbi Richard F Address.

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