This past Monday was St. Matthias’ turn to host the monthly deanery meeting—the pastors from the eleven parishes in our area from Hollywood to Belmont/Kimball to the lake. Because we take the summer off and the weather forecast looked decent, instead of the usual format we relaxed outside in the rectory garden and had a barbeque. Every once in a while I find myself being my dad and proximity to a B.B.Q. grill is one of them. The precise ritual of lighting the charcoal (not propane!), the technique of scrubbing and oiling the grill, banking the coals, casually seasoning then, of course, burning the heck out of the meat are not exactly skills that my dad taught me; rather they are instincts and intuitions I absorbed standing beside him in a dense cloud of smoke on many a summer evening
I know there are a whole lot of other, much more important, things that I do just by instinct that, actually, I inherited from him. As it should be. Even now, dad died in 1985, I miss him, yet that’s okay because he’s never very far—never very far at all.
I’ve mentioned John O’Donahue here before. He was an incorrigibly Irish priest, philosopher, teacher and poet who died in his sleep at 53 in 2008. His last book was To Bless the Space Between Us, and in it he talks about what a real blessing ought to be. “A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen. It is a gracious invocation where the human heart pleads with the divine heart. When a blessing is invoked, a window opens in eternal time.” My dad was and is a real blessing for my sister and brother and me.
O’Donohue continued his reflection on blessing, “Our longing for the eternal kindles our imagination to bless. Regardless of how we configure the eternal, the human heart continues to dream of a state of wholeness, that place where everything comes together, where loss will be made good, where blindness will transform into vision, where damage will be made whole, where the clenched question will open in the house of surprise, where the travails of life’s journey will enjoy a homecoming. To invoke a blessing is to call some of that wholeness upon a person now.”
For dads, here’s a bit of one of John O’Donohue’s blessings— another bit to follow at this weekend’s Father’s Day Masses.
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance, May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in, So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames, May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough, To hear in the depths of the laughter of God.
God bless- especially may God bless the Dads of St. Matthias. On behalf of all your sons and daughters, thank you for all the gifts. Including those given in a dense cloud of charcoal smoke.