Back in my hometown of Anderson, SC, Carrie and I were in that auto line of cars following a funeral. I was trying to figure out my position in line behind the hearse. A man I had met earlier came up to the car. I rolled down the window. “Are you Ben’s boy?”
“Ben.” I had not heard that name in so long from anyone outside my family.
As the manager of a textile mill, in my childhood neighborhood, my father had been the king, the patriarch, but I long ago moved from there and from then. I switched towns and states. No one knew me as “Ben’s boy,” or “Ben’s son.” To hear that name washed over me and I was twelve years old again.
“Yes, sir,” I said with pride.
My father died when I was 18, three decades ago. I have moved far from anyone who knows him, but this man did. This man in a way knew me that others don’t, not even Carrie. He knew me as “Ben’s son”. With pride I said, “Yes, sir.”
As a youth, my father and I fought. He had an image from me as a future man far different from the one I was trying to become. In my mind, it was an either or proposition.
As I’ve gotten older, I see my relationship with my father as a both and, I am “Ben’s Boy,” yet at the same time, “My Own Man.” I have become far different than either of us envisioned, but now I can claim them both.
A Father’s love enables and empowers us to become both claimed by our Dad’s, and at the same time, grow unto something more than the images our father has for us or we have for ourselves, we can become the Imago Dei, the image of God, Our Father who art in heaven, and on earth, and in us, hopefully more and more each day.
“Are you Ben’s boy?”
Yes, I am.
“Are you God’s child?”
Yes, I am.
Prayer: Gracious God, on this Father’s day and every day here after, may I give my own son an example to follow and the freedom to find his own path. If it’s not to much to ask, could you arrange for my own father and I to have ‘a catch’ in a mystical corn field/baseball diamond in Iowa? Until then, tell my father I said, “Hello,” and that I’m still proud to be Ben’s boy.”