Saturday, June 2, 2007

faith of my fathers

I spent today thinking about Father's Day, which is coming up in just two weeks. And as I was thinking, the chorus to the old hymn "Faith of Our Fathers" started chiming through my brain.

I owe a lot of my spirituality and my sense of faith to my father, and to my grandfathers, though I don't often like to admit it. My father and I now sit at very different points along the Christian religious spectrum, so holidays aren't always fun. We sometimes have this tendency of getting lost in a religious or political discussion that's usually pointless because we'll never convince each other of our own correctness. A few years ago we had to come to an understanding that during these family times we really needed to focus our attention on spending time with each other and the kids, so we'd stay off of subjects like these. I must say we've done a pretty good job of it, though occasionally we wander into the forbidden territory.

What I relish about these discussions with my father is that no matter how much we disagree, and no matter how wrong he is (tongue-in-cheek) he is very passionate about his faith and his beliefs. He believes that our faith and the practice of our faith is the hinge upon which the whole world rests, the fulcrum upon which life and death sit in balance.

My grandfathers are different stories. One of my grandfathers lives life in the absence of faith. I never really had any sort of relationship with him. My one memorable experience with him is a negative one. I know it sounds bad for me to say this, but he's in pretty bad health, and I couldn't say that if he died tomorrow that I'd be at his funeral. I just don't know how I'll react when that day comes. He never really was a grandfather to me and he's never had a deeply meaningful relationship in his life so far as I can tell. So I have learned from him damaging effects of a life lived without a deeper purpose rooted in faith.

My other grandfather was a Baptist most of his life, though he cussed and smoked more than any other Baptist I've ever known. To his very last day he spent his life the way he wanted to, which was often abrasive to just about everyone around him. But he loved his kids, his grandkids, and his great-grandkids. I used to spend the summers with him at the lake. Often as a kid I'd go with him to help clean the church he attended. I vaccumed the sanctuary and the classrooms, while he did something else. I learned from him the grace of God. No matter what we do, nothing can separate us from the love of God...not even skipping a few aisles while vaccuming.

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