A Litany for Fathers

This first appeared in the June 16, 2019,  issue of the State Journal-Register, where I write regularly for the Beliefs column.

Yes, that's my dad, John C. Murphy, Sr., on furlough in 1943, and in 1971, sporting new Providence High School gear in support of his daughter's high school pick.

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For Fathers.
For those called Dad and Daddy, Pa and Pop, Bab and Babba.
For dads called by unique, endearing names.
For the ones not called at all.

For dads alive—and resting in peace.
For dads burdened by fatherhood—or delighted.
For dads who’ve lost children to death—or to the prison pipeline.
For the ones not ready to be dads who showed up anyway.
For those equipped with skill and means who walked away.
For dads who know, love, and cherish their own kids.
For dads who love and foster and adopt.
For dads of blended families.

For the dads who long to be there for their children—but can’t.
For the dads on military bases, carrier ships, and submarines.
For dads who will have no Father’s Day cards, visits, or phone calls.

For dads whose burned bridges isolate them on islands of loneliness.
For dads in prison.

For the unofficial dads: teachers, mentors, godfathers and grandfathers, coaches, big brothers, and uncles.

For moms who are dads, too.

For dads whose compassion and care create a wide circle of relationships.
For dads separated from their children by walls—physical, or self-imposed.
For dads with the luxury of full-time fathering.

For dads buried under the weight of oppression.
For dads paralyzed by shame or drowning in trauma.
For dads rejected by their children.
For the dads who try.
For dads who see it through.

For dads with brains and brawn and heart.
For dads who braid hair, respect women, love their spouses, and bake cookies.
For the ones with three jobs who come home dirty and tired.
For fathers who see a new day coming—and prepare their sons.

For dads who play with their kids.
For dads who can throw a football—and a tea party.
For dads who dance and sing—and those who only think they can.
For the father who can build a bicycle and teach the rider.
For dads who teach and nurse and paint and juggle.

For the dads who died too soon.
For those who witness to the dignity of long life.
For dads who know when to remain silent and when to speak.
For the ones who speak seven languages—or struggle with one.

For dad’s who value cultures other than their own.
For dads who know their limits and seek help.
For the dads who teach by word and example.

For dads who work for the common good.
For those who teach their children to drive—and to vote.
For the dads who can change a diaper—and the oil.
For dads who serve on soup lines and front lines.
For dads who free their children to seek their own dreams.

For faithful dads who love and respect their children’s mothers.
For dads raising sons to respect themselves and their sisters, aunties, and moms.
For dads who change the world with compassion and courage.

For faith-filled dads.
For dads who feed their children doses of joy and encouragement.
For those who show them how to pray and act with justice, how to serve and live with integrity.
And for all children of dads: on this day, whatever your relationship with the men who fathered you—may you find what you need: joy, peace, or reconciliation; comfort in your grief, gratitude for your blessings, or freedom from your fear.

May you center yourself this Father’s Day in the knowledge that whether your human father was up to the challenge of caring for you or not, Love is the Source of your existence—and his. May Love re-create you both.

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