Sunday, 15 June 2014

Celebrating all the fathers...

So here's the thing about father's day: I think we've got the definition of fathering wrong. Or at least made it way too narrow. 

Of course I honour all the tireless, bone-tired, kind, devoted dads out there. I am in awe of your capacity t
o wake up again and again to face the reality of family life with love.

But what about those men who father in a more subtle way? The men who notice someone in the office and realise they need some more support and then find a way to gently offer it? The uncles who offer their nieces and nephews a safe, neutral (vital) space in which to share things they cannot bring to their parents? The men who coach, guide, mentor? Who create safe spaces in which others can grow and come to know themselves?

I have a dear friend who sat with his teenage niece in the days before she died of a terminal illness and went through every possible theory of life after death with her so that she could talk about what she was facing with honesty. She couldn't bring this to her parents - they were understandably finding it impossible to face the possibility of losing her - but being with her uncle allowed her to talk things through and bring healing and lightness and discovery and sweetness. This is the kind of fathering I'm talking about. This is what our children really need outside of their relationship with us. To have an uncle who fathers them with such love that they can even surrender to death with courage and humour.

So you see, when a comment appears under one of my posts and it is from one of the men in our community, I get extra excited. Because the world needs men who are willing to engage in conversations about Love and healing and peace and emotional honesty. Women need those men, children need those men, men need those men.

We don't need more dictators or heartless politicians or other expressions of the untrue masculine; what we need is real, strong, vulnerable, grown-up, conscious, loving fathers.

And some of these men do have babies and families. But some do not and might never experience this specific form of relationship with children.

Whether it happens in the traditional family setting or with those in the community or wider family, fathering is about leading the way, creating a safe space for others to grow, blazing Love trails and leaving a combination of breadcrumbs and enormous, great-big torches of light along the way. And the breadcrumbs are made of honesty, openness, kindness, silence, laughter, tears, mistakes, apologies, reflection, hugs.

And so, look, happy father's day to all the 'traditional' fathers. I salute you for all the unseen, heroic moments you go through in the name of love for your children. But also, happy father's day to all you amazing spiritual fathers too. I salute you for all the unseen, heroic moments you go through in the name of love for all of us. This is your day too. 

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