Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day Reflections

"Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." Luke 10:2 (KJV)

Father's Day made me reflect on some of the things my father taught me that appear to have little relevance to my day to day adult life. Things like how to shoot snakes in a swamp come to mind.

Other lessons proved to be more useful, or not...

My father was very keen on sharpening knives and tools. To this day, I get frustrated with dull blades. When I was young, and carrying a pocket knife was considered socially acceptable, we were even allowed to have one at school. My father taught me that people would usually cut themselves because they were working with a dull knife, and that was one reason why we kept our pocket knives sharp. The rule about dull blades however did not work for my mother who always seemed to slice her finger when working with one of Dad's freshly sharpened kitchen knives. Mom used to keep a dull knife hidden that she would take out and use for food prep when Dad wasn't looking.

Kids can't carry pocket knives to school these days, nor might they be able to carry a machete or hatchet into class like I was able to do on a couple of occasions in Middle School when as part of the "Service Club" I was assigned the job of gathering greens for Christmas decorations. We were told to provide our own equipment and pack a lunch. I set me sights on Dad's hatchet, but Dad was concerned that I might damage his prized and carefully honed hatchet by striking a stone, or that I would lose it, but he might have been worried about my fingers and toes because he gave me a safety lecture before letting me borrow it and the leather holster that he had made out of some scrap material. The rest of the Service Club showed up equally well armed and we left the school parking lot early one December morning in an old smoking school bus driven by one of the coaches. After a 90 minute drive, Coach let us loose on a patch of woods that he owned, and the five of us flailed and hacked away at anything green with our weapons. Then we had to gather the greenery and load the bus making sure that there was room for us and our gear. Coach didn't appear too concerned about safety because I don't think we saw much of him after we got there. I think he might have had a cool one and took a nap in his cabin while we worked. After lunch, we returned to school (in one piece) in time for final period, and we proudly marched into class properly filthy, weapons in hand.

Today we wouldn't get past the metal detectors or security guards located at the entrance to most schools. Coach would be fired, we would be arrested, psychoanalyzed, expelled, shown on the nightly news, and placed on a watch list.

When I returned home, Dad checked to make sure I had not destroyed the edge of his hatchet, complained a little about the condition of the leather holster, and after another lecture, we carefully dried and oiled the hatchet so that it would not rust before hanging it in its assigned spot in the workshop.

Our heavenly Father lectures us, guides us, and sometimes lets us loose in the wilderness with his most dangerous instrument, his Holy Word. Let us take proper care of the tools He has entrusted into our care. Let us use those tools to gather fresh greenery into His temple, and let us take time to reflect on his love and hope for us.


  1. Anonymous1:05 PM

    This is lovely. I sent it to several friends as an antidote to the patriarchy-bashing essay in Episcopal News!

  2. Phillip,

    Thanks for dropping in!

  3. Anon,


    I believe you are referring to "Father knows best (sometimes)" By Phyllis Strupp, on June 17, 2011 who wrote,

    "As church membership has declined over the past 40 years, American society has spoken loud and clear also: church is on the outs as a source of spiritual nourishment, especially for younger Americans. Perhaps our patriarchal ways have become a golden calf that pushes others away from God and our congregations.

    Is the idolatry of male power in a patriarchal society preventing us from seeing the Trinity more clearly -- and receiving the wisdom and aid of the Holy Spirit?"

  4. Nicely put.

    BTW, my dad was never late. I get my almost psychopathic punctuality from him, I think.


  5. BTW, your sidebar quiz says I'm Origen.