Archive for the ‘family’ Category

My wife recently visited our daughter who is pregnant with her and her husband’s first baby. It’s a girl! Yea! During this time, my wife and our daughter bonded. There was an amazing baby shower, but just being together was so good, walking, eating together, talking.

When she got home my wife wrote our daughter the following email. I love it!

Dear Daughter,

This is something I thought about last night. Most of our life is spent planning for the next stage. Education is for employment. Employment is for making money and getting ahead so we can do the next thing (car, house, vacation, expensive purse, etc.) Sometimes worrying about what comes next takes up soooo much space in our heads–job problems, baby shower (:0)), how to juggle work and other aspects of life. And to another point, what we worry about is often insignificant because we are unaware of what tomorrow will really bring.

I never “got” the concept of mindfulness. It is  popular today. I guess I am ADD, but that’s Okay. Plus, to be honest, planning for something is really fun. Having something to look forward to, gets us out of bed in the morning.

This is laying the groundwork for my point. When you have that baby this goes into the background. She is THE THING. Holding her, feeding her, changing her diapers, this is the world. Smelling her head…..I am so glad you can take the summer months to enjoy your new baby without the pressure of work and school. I am so glad your husband works right next to your apartment so he can come home at lunchtime to enjoy the baby. You know I am glad there is no commute!

My main point is that with that baby it is Okay that your worries about the future, and thoughts about the next thing stops. Time spent holding her, kissing her, feeding her, kissing her head, this is the most important thing and it grounds you and forces you into the present, and it bonds you to this little person.

It is a privilege to be able to do that so eat it up. Let time stand still. Let the worry and anxiety go on without you.


Nice! We can all use such wisdom. Time with our precious ones, time that idles along, that lallygags along, time that drops worry and embraces another — this is the best life has to offer.

Jesus — he was pretty curious about things, interested in things other people weren’t.

He was fascinated by vacant lots, the things growing in them. He wrote the book on neglected areas; he catalogued the things living there. He hung out in disturbed areas; he knew the names of weeds.

Along this line I have a confession. One the books that has had a big influence on my life is Natural History of Vacant Lots by Wessel and Wong. Really!

I’ll give you a taste of it.

In the opening, the authors state that there are no so-called weeds but instead plants that voluntarily colonize disturbed and wasted areas. These plants are best referred to as ruderal plants or pioneer plants. No negative connotation. The authors consider them worthy of attention, study, notation. They have value as habitat, they are niche communities for a great variety of life.

The authors go on to talk about the vast, fascinating community of organisms that make up vacant lots — mustards, wild radishes, thistles, dandelions, pig weed, clover, mallows and flea bane. And then there’s the creatures, monarch butterflies, mourning cloaks, swallowtails, cabbage white butterflies, bee flies, crickets, western fence lizards, robbins and mockingbirds and hummingbirds.

Why know such things? Because life, life on the edges of the main stream, life in the ditches, life in the neglected areas, weedy life, ruderal life is life and it has value on the planet as part of the ecosystem we all inhabit.

Back to Jesus, back to people. Seeing, observing, identifying, naming and valuing the people on the edges, the people overlooked, the people that were not considered to have value, Jesus pushed that.

Check this out.

Jesus said to his [one of his hosts], “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14

Many of us will not hold such a banquet, although we might work in a food distribution, but the point here is that in every day life as we passed through life’s vacant lots — and everybody eventually resides in a physical or mental or social wasteland — we are to take note of, see, name and value the creatures living there.

The world is fascinating. Jesus thought so. The world is full of different types of landscapes, inhabitants. All around us are those wanting and waiting for us to know their names, call out their value, even the members of our own homes.

Look around. Note the edges, verges, borders, waste places in your family, your social circle. Note the weedy places in yourself.

What’s there?

Who is there?

Be fascinated. Be gentle with your own inner vacant lots and others. See what grows there, even your less attractive plants and creatures, your thistles, your bugs. They are part of you. Invite them to the banquet.

And as you pass along the road, through your family and friend circle, look to the edges. Note the cripple at the edge, your daughter, an uncle, someone who has moved away, a friend.

Don’t avert your eyes. It’s life, part of life, the vacant lots, the people living there, to be known, to be invited in.

Interesting that we call those places vacant.

They aren’t.

The lots are all full, for those paying attention, those with the loving curiosity of Jesus.

She couldn’t get out. It’s her problem with balance, and coordination. She’s a bit topplely — so I did, got out.

“What do you want on it?” I asked her, but I pretty much knew. I mean she’s my daughter.

And sure enough, while I was out, wandering the huge, towering, concrete ballpark corridors  looking for hotdogs, they smacked a homer. They always do that. When you aren’t looking, that is when it usually goes down — or up.

But on the way back in — stepping over a whole row of people watching the game — I felt like a really good dad, handing her a bunned, mustardy, catsupy, oniony hotdog. She happily woofed it down.

You feed your babies, even after they grow up, because they are still a part of you, as you are a part of them and as we are all a part of all of us.

Identity is plural. It’s multiple. It’s freakin’ co-developed. My daughter and I are inextricably bonded together. Feed her? I even share my gut bacteria with her. Research now shows us that communities of microorganisms found in the intestines of genetically related people are more similar than those of people not related.

In Ed Yong’s fascinating new book, I Contain Multitudes, he writes, “Every one of us is a zoo in our own right – a colony enclosed within a single body. A multi-species collective. An entire world.” He is talking about microbes. Apparently, about half of me and you, isn’t even human. We are microbial! We are thoroughly symbiotic. Going on, Yong concludes, “Perhaps it is less that I contain multitudes and more that I am multitudes. Microbes subvert our notions of individuality.”

I’m down with this. I’m dependent. We all are. My experiences are shared. All life is shared. I am not simply an individual. It happened when I wasn’t looking.

When I travel to Nicaragua a few years ago, a friend led the trip. I would have been lost without her. She arranged for the multiple planes, the panga boats to take us up the river, arranged for our hosts to prepare our dinners, provided the money for them to do that and set up the work for the community center we built. And by the way, I did pick up some new microbes in Nicaragua — and brought them home. Life is shared.

In a week, I will be going up to see my 91 year old dad — in Los Angeles — to take him to the doctor, to check on the strength of his broken leg. I see in him myself, and in him I see my future. He is me; I am him; we are living parallel lives; I am aging — just one step behind him. He is another of my guides — my gut family — blazing the way into the future.

I like it. I am not alone. We are not alone. It is actually impossible to be alone. Our family is always with us, needing us, inside of us, going before us, following us. My dad leads, I follow, my daughters follow me.

Here is an often ignored reality. We contain, create, shelter, remember, carry and shelter a multitude! I exist in a biome. Individuality — be subverted!


It is as God intended — that we all be one! We are in Him, and in each other, always guided, co-developing, always following, always leading, ever symbionts, ever dependents, the divine zoo, always caring for someone, always being cared for —  never alone!

We love stories, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Lord of the Ring, the Cat in the Hat, but what is the greatest story of all? 

That story is the story of God. That is the story that absorbs and explains all other stories.

Charles Williams, the third member of the Christian literary group the Inklings — which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien — was fascinated by how God’s story involves a comprehensive connection to all of life.

To get at this, Williams coined the term co-inherence. Coinherence, describes how things exist in an essential and innate relationship with other things.

This is Christian. All humans exist within God’s existence. In Acts 17:28, Paul gives clear expression of coinherence when he writes: For in him [God] we live and move and have our being. 

In God we co-inhere, we symbiotically enmesh. In God we get sticky, and stick together. 

We don’t live The Epic of Gilgamesh, the story of one great hero. We live the Epic of Togetherness.  Ecc. 4:9-12, “Two are better than one,”  writes the wise one.

Ever eat a sticky bun? You start from the outside and work your way in to the last bite, which is the most sugary and buttery of all. Imagine it, the cinnamon, the sugar, it sticks on your fingers, you finish by licking them.

Welcome to sticky bun theology! Life is a sticky bun, and God is the sugary goo that holds us all together.  It’s true. We live within a sticky, inter-connected spiritual eco-system, held together by the Godhead. 

God in his three persons — Father, Son and Spirit — are equal, and they work as one; they honor and serve each other and they stick together. And this sticky-trinity of goodness is the model and source of all human stickiness, all love and all co-operation.

The greatest story ever told is the story of God’s gummy, adhesive, connectedness to us. 

Do you want in on this? Want coinherence, want connectedness? The how to get this is clearly stated in Galatians 2:20 where Paul writes, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

By accepting Christ’s death on the cross for ourselves, we come to participate in that death — we die to the old sinful self — and we enter into God’s interconnected, mutualistic, resurrected life. 

It is God’s sacrifice, his humility, his support, that brings all life into harmony. And here is the deal: God’s story  — a story of harmony through sacrifice — has huge ramification for our understanding of the family.

Good families adhere, come together, work well when they act like the God acts, like Jesus acts, and like the Holy Spirit acts. When families humbly serve each other, sacrifice for each other and empower each other just like the Trinity does, then they thrive!

Last week I put in some landscape irrigation pipe. To do so I had to water drill under two sidewalks. It was a muddy mess. I was up to my elbows in mud, to grow something.

Same with God. He got down in the mud for us. And when we do the same, when we get low, when we get down in the mud with him and with our family, we please God.

Paul commands this attitude in  Philippians 2:5-7.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.

Note Jesus’s example here. 

He didn’t hold on to power, but in the great kenosis, the emptying of Christ, God in Christ gave power up to bring us into close relationship with himself.

Therefore, to create unified families, we must follow Christ’s model and help and empower each other, not control and dominate each other.  

This is why Paul tells husbands to sacrifice for wives, just as Christ sacrificed for the church. God does not command males to dominate, as they have been so sinfully and addictively prone to do. He commands them to sacrifice. And Paul tells wives to respect their husbands too. The truth is that everybody is to sacrifice and to show respect to everybody in the family. Paul is telling us, in the family, act like the members of the Trinity act! Be mutually supportive.   

To be super clear, Paul instructs both husbands and wives, Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

This is sticky-bun theology. This makes for a sticky family. We are brought into harmony by mutually submitting.

This undermines any idea that families should be based on the old Roman code of fixed dominant and submissive roles. When family members insist on dominant roles, when one person dominates and controls, and when the family members compete for power and control, then those families depart from the epic, people-uniting story of God. 

The Trinity that makes up God, shows us the way to connectedness. Harmony in the family is through sacrifice — not dominance. Authoritarianism in the family isn’t Biblical; it is worldly!

This is particularly shown by authoritarianism’s dark side    psychological abuse, spousal abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse and elder abuse. These behaviors ruin families. They don’t align with God’s story. 

To any of us who over-control in the family, who lord it over others. I would remind of Luke 18:14, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” 

To find the good model of the good family we must remember the grand, epic story of the Bible.  God’s intent from the beginning was for things to exist in an essential, innate, nurturing, supportive and loving relationship all other things.

Think of traffic. Traffic is competition, right? The goal is to get there first. Not. 

We leave the house in the morning around the same time as our neighbors. We mix together on the streets. We travel in one big connected, jockeying, competing mess. We are connected, hopefully, not too much — or bam!

But actually, to make traffic work, we must not compete; we must defer to each other and wait for each other.

Driving side-by-side, we stay in our lanes, we signal when we turn, we stop at lights — well some of us stop.

The only ticket I ever got was for a California stop — a rolling stop —  an I’m-in-this-for-me stop. But traffic —  at it’s best  — is stopping for each other; it is watching out for each other, not using hand-gestures when people make mistakes. Good traffic is team work. The goal is for everyone to get there safely!

Welcome to a picture of the good family, the theologically sticky family, the co-inhered family, the collaborative family. In the collaborative families, we travel safely to the destination together. 

Each family member signals when they want to turn, waits for others to go first, stops when another says stop, obeys the concept that we do what is best for the team.  

In good families children obey. So do husbands. So do the cats. What about the need for good leaders in the family? Good families are made up of good leaders, and leaders are best when they are servants and helpers. They take turns leading. 

Good families: 

Allow for conflict and dialogue.

Make decisions through agreements. 

Empower all the members.  

Cooperate for the common good. 

Leave no one behind. 

My wife and I have recently been trying to pick out some new hardwood flooring for our house. 

I got really sold on one color of wood.  My wife pointed out that that wasn’t the color we originally agreed would fit best. But I was stuck on what I wanted. So I went to Lowes and ordered it. No, I didn’t. 

I had to pause myself. I had to think. My wife and I have decided never to make decisions of consequence without agreeing. We believe in treating each other as equals, showing mutual respect.

So I said, “Okay, I’ll drop that color idea. You’re right, we should choose something we both agree on.” 

And so we have!

We are traveling together, within the safety of mutual submission. 

The story of God — which is the best story in the Bible —  should inform and dictate our everyday behavior.

 It is the gummy and adhesive story of co-inherence.

Therefore, we do best to model our families after the systemic, sticky, collaborative example that flows to us out of the Trinity, a model of mutual respect, sacrifice, servanthood and love. 

Sticky bun theology — it makes for good, sticky families. 

Who am I?

I can’t always tell you for sure, because I keep changing.

But yesterday, I noticed that I pretty much operated as a dad.

Who am I?

I am a dad.

Yesterday, I ate lunch with one of my daughters at the Chi Thai Kitchen in San Diego. It’s near her home and a favorite eatery of hers. We both had the Red Curry with Chicken — her recommendation, and a delicious one — then we went back to her house and played with her cats and sat on the couch and confabulated twicely.

She was super-vulnerable with me — as she always is — and I was super-open with her, as I always am, listening to her carefully and respectfully, affirming her thoughts and emotions as valid. I prayed with her before we parted company, her head on my chest, much like when she was little, but different because she isn’t anymore. She is an adult, and I treat her like one. She prayed for me too.

Because we had discussed her career options, I told her, “Listen, you don’t have to be any certain thing to win my love. I love you completely and totally, and I always will. You don’t have to choose a particular career to win my approval —  like teaching at the University. You already have all of my approval. Do what you want. I love you. I will never stop loving you.” I have told my girls that all their lives.

Later that evening my daughter who I had lunch with came over to my house, and she and my other daughter and my wife and I ate dinner together, then we played Mille Bornes, a French card game, then Catch Phrase, a wild, fun guessing game. We laughed and hooted and helped each other and didn’t, as when we threw nasty cards on each other’s “Go” pile — like flat tires and speed limits — or when we helped each other guess the desired catch phrase, even across the teams.

There were some touching moments in the evening, as when one daughter helped the other daughter read the catch phrases. This was done because one can’t read. We make no big deal about this in our family, because in our family brain damage is something we live with, always have. We know we are all a bit brain damaged so it’s normal for us to help each other.

All day yesterday, I was a dad, eating with my daughters, talking with daughters, playing games with daughters. At the end of the day we all sat on the couch together and watched the end of a baseball game. We like team sports; we are a team.

Being a dad is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I love it. It’s easy for me — really it always has been. It has been one of the most natural things in my life. Being a dad is simply being there for another human being, well one that came out of you, which is kind of wonderfully weird. Really, it’s a great thing, a noble thing, a supreme thing. Having a child ennobles us. Being there for a child, any child, ennobles us — you didn’t have to have had the child for it to ennoble you. Caring for a child, any child, or any adult for that matter, is the best way I know to get free from being overly occupied with yourself, which is also easy to do, and not entirely good.

What does it mean to be a good dad?

Being a good dad is simply wanting someone else’s good and acting on that — lovingly and consistently. It is holding on tight! And it is letting go! And it is doing both these things at the same time! It is doing what needs doing and saying what needs saying when it needs saying or doing. It is praising one daughter for being accomplished, another for being loving and fun. It is eating lunch with one, going to a ballgame with another. It is doing something that is needed — with no strings attached.

I was a dad yesterday, and again today.

Of all the things I have been, this is me at my best.

This weekend one of my brother’s asked me an interesting question, “How do you think pain was handled in the family we grew up in?”


After we threw this around for 45 minutes — my brother, his wife, my daughter, me — I can note a couple of things.

Siblings don’t grow up in the same family.

Each child has a unique experience of their family, based on the child’s own personality, based on what is going on in the family during the most vulnerable years, based on difference in how the parents relate to the children.

I had wonderful parents. They were loving, godly, present, good. But I didn’t always get what I needed when it came to processing pain. I needed more processing than I got. I needed for us to sit down and talk about the pain, the psychological pain, particularly how we experiencing it, what it was doing to us, how we felt about it. I think that I needed this because I am a very verbal processor and because I am sensitive to emotions. I am a thinker, but I am also a feeler.

When my mom got breast cancer, I was 15 or 16 years old. I remember sitting by her bed, in her bedroom, holding her hand, worrying about her — mom and I alone in a dark room. I never remember any helpful conversations about her cancer, with my dad, with her or with my brothers. My mom had a mastectomy. My dad worked, my brothers and I went to school, my mom recovered. We we’re a product of our times. We were workers, doers, not emotional processors, but even if we had wanted to talk, I would say that we didn’t even have the language we needed to talk about all this.

Only later in life did my mom tell me how emotionally painful the surgery was for her, how she felt horribly disfigured by it, how she suffered over that through the years. Only later in life did I realize how alone she was in that, and how alone I was during those years. My mom has always been a classy woman, always beautifully dressed, very conscious of her appearance, but she became a cancer survivor, a mastectomy survivor — with a hidden wound —  and her experience shaped my experience.

After finishing my undergrad, I fell in love with Linda, the woman I married, the love of my life. We started off talking, and we kept on talking. We talked, and talked and talked, about everything, always —  we still do. Talking is at the core of our relationship. We process life, it’s events, our emotions, our two daughter’s emotions with talk. Perhaps we over-process things, but talk, talk, talk — we go for the talking cure.

My kids aren’t perfect. They too didn’t get everything they needed from the family my wife and I created. Looking back, even with our penchant toward processing, some things in the family didn’t get adequately processed. At times, we simply didn’t know what the girls were feeling, or thinking or what they needed.

I love the family I grew up in. My parents are beautiful people. They absolutely did the best they could.  I love the family I created for myself. We too did the best we could. I come from good stock. Throughout my extended family, we have handled pain well enough to stay together, to have successful lives, to avoid addiction, to avoid separation. But I would say this, from my own, limited, needy perspective.

People need to talk.

More than we even know.

Talking helps.

Listening helps.

Talking and listening — this helps relieve pain.

I really like talking with my family.

I like the way our talking tastes, savory, like pizza;  I like the way our communication smells, strong, like night blooming jasmine.

Tonight my younger daughter and I Facetimed on our iPads. We like to see each other when we talk.  I reassured her about a concern. She comforted me about a stress. Her cat sat on the screen. We laughed. We are totally open with each other. We adore each other and tell each other so.

I like the way open family communication feels, soft like my fluffy cat Megan — but from time-to-time sharp, like a surgeon’s knife, the good knife that heals.

I like one-on-one conversations with my people — the safety and honesty. I like my wife, a lot, and this is partly because we are able to be very honest with each other, everyday. She is safe to me. This morning we sat with our coffee — as we often do — and shared ideas about the future. We had the same ideas. We are like-minded about our plans.

We agree on most things: politics, religion, the uses of money, the value of morality, kids, cats, green vegetables, exercise, traveling, books and dark chocolate (all the important things) and thus the relationship is so easy and super fun. She is my best friend. I completely adore her. We almost think as one — except about avocados, French roast and my behavior.

Tomorrow I’ll drive my oldest daughter to her program. In the car we’ll talk. Although she has learning difficulties, she is exquisitely  verbal. She says the most fascinating things. Our whole family quotes her — her neologisms, syntaxtoblemes and her occasional charmitudes.

After dropping off my daughter,  I am going to drive on to Los Angles to have coffee with with my dad and spend some time with my older brother. My dad told me on the phone tonight — in anticipation of seeing me tomorrow — that he wrote out about 20 questions on 3×5 cards that he wants to ask me.  I can tell from this that he cares about me. He always asks me lots of questions. I come by talking genetically.

Tomorrow I’ll see my older brother. He has cancer. I care deeply for him. We are close. We talk a lot on the phone. I think the cancer has brought us closer. We share the same career, and we support each other by candidly discussing our career challenges.

I love my family. We are a talking family. We are an honest and safe talking family.

I feel so fortunate to have a family who talks — openly, emotionally, lovingly; it has made me who I am.

I am one of the talking beasts.


We happened on a haberdashery while walking home, just after stopping for hand-made chocolate truffles on Columbia Street.

It was an upscale hat shop in North Beach, and we stood amid a crowd of fashionistas, trying on high-quality head ware.

I looked good in the fedora, my daughter Laurel in the brown felt cloche with the light brown polkadot band.

I bought it for her for $70 — for Christmas. How could I not? She looked all 1920’s and 30’s in it — coy and gorgeous.

I could not have been more smitten.

It was that kind of day.

It began with a cafe latte, purchased by walking just down the street from our Genoa Place apartment to Cafe Trieste — and a bear claw found just around that corner at Stella’s.

Later my wife and daughters and I walked across the Golden Gate bridge, that huge orange-over-blue suspension of belief and rode the bus back to the waterfront.

For lunch I ate killer clam chowder and sour dough bread with my daughter Rosalind at the wharf. Later the family had ice creams. We walked home from there.

That night I had a slice of world class pizza taken from Tony’s, purchased two blocks for our apartment, a Firestone IPA from Trader Joes just down the hill, and some chocolate covered popcorn from a neighborhood shop.

I ate my dinner sitting in the bay window of our apartment, over looking Union Street, the city lights glowing in the big buildings, a crescent moon overhead, traffic down below.

What heals?

Love, pizza, bridges, chocolates, lattes, a wife, walking together, bread, daughters, hats and beauty — all collected within walking distance of where you sleep.

What heals me is San Francisco with the women I adore.

Every person is a network; every new relationship is a World Wide Web.

We are all social systems; only our pets come with no leashes. People are always tethered to other friends and family.

When we get a boyfriend, we inherit his cousin. When we make a new friend we get to meet their friends. When we marry a wife, we marry her father.

Arranged marriages in India bank on this reality. One family courts, woos, shops another. They know what they are getting into –a lot. More than the adored one at hand. They are merging clans.

When I married my wife, I got her mother. It was a little rough, then better, then downright family. I went from flinching to hugging. I helped her buy a car, a condo and a new son — me.

For this very reason we should choose well, and choose often and choose with our hearts and eyes open. Life is best lived as a collector — of people. Everyone we add adds others to us. I just picked a new dentist. Now I’m getting to know and have fun with her whole staff.

Teresa is one of my many new friends from church. With Teresa I get her beautiful children. Summer is my colleague and friend at work. With her, I get her amazingly insightful husband Will. Laurel is my awesome, super-accomplished daughter. Through her I get a relationship with her cool boyfriend Justin.

This is the summum bonum within the crystalline sphere of the primum mobile.

Relate; inherit supreme good — more precious people.

I glanced down at the end table next to his soft chair which sat under a light in the corner. He picked up his magnifying glass from the top of the end table. I noticed a black cylinder lying there.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“That’s my light,” he said. “I use it to see the clock,” and he pointed to the wall clock across the room.

With his magnifying glass he was now going through a stack of three by five note cards.

“Here it is,” he said, and handed me a laminated card. On it was written a quote, in his crabbed penmanship that I knew so well. He had given me cards like this when I was little, with verses penned on them, to memorize.

I kept them for years, until my car was stolen. The cards were in the glovebox.

I looked over at him; he wobbled just a bit, and then steadied himself by reaching out and touching the back of the chair. I glanced again at the end table. He had told me just this morning that he usually got up about 4 am, sat in this chair, went through his cards, mulling them over, memorizing the quotations written on them.

I could easily imagine him there with the dark all around him, sitting under his one light, his magnifying glass in one hand, his notecards in the other, peering into the words he had copied down, trying to take something from them.

This corner, this devotional bay, this small end table, the black satellite radio there on it, the stack of books, the cards, pens, notebooks, flashlight — this was his holy alcove, these his sainted relics, and he himself the living statuary within it.

I looked down at the card and read it.

“Lord, before the mystery of your dying I am silent dumb, I do not know what to say or do. All I can do is adore silently, without words, without even emotion. And yet Lord, I want to understand more deeply and love more fully. But somehow I am empty and drained of feeling. Accept then my dumb adoration and silent offering of my self for this is all I have to give.”

I looked back up to him.

There he was, my father — eighty-six years old, stricken with the shingles, missing his natural teeth, in need of a new pacemaker, tottering on the edge of the end, drained almost to the last dumb drop but doing what he has always done when he has been silent before the divine — he was reaching out and steadying himself upon a phrase.