When I look at my children I see into the past, when they were first placed from their mother’s body into my arms.  I see who they are now, the unique skills and personalities that are developing in them.  And I see the future; or I should say I try to see the future.  I pray that they are faithful to God and that they find the callings for which they were born.

            I know them.  I know their strengths, weaknesses, pains and delights.  I know that some are driven by the power of music and some by the wonder of story.  One is motivated by touching and manipulating wood, stone and metal; one is thrilled by learning the physical laws of the universe.  Two are marksmen.  One can stand in front of any crowd with no fear. They are each unique.

            But then, this is the job of the father.  The father, at his best, manifests a deep understanding of the little ones entrusted to him. He has to love them almost more than he can bear in order to keep them safe, show them their worth and mold them into great men and women.

            I was thinking about this as I considered the patients I see in the emergency room.  I was thinking how grand it would be if I knew them the way I know my own children.  How much more effective I would be as a physician if I could see into the hearts of each person. 

            Then, the difficult would be comprehensible, for I could see what had made them so dysfunctional.  The worried could be encouraged with hopeful stories from the past.  The depressed could be uplifted with praise of their inherent greatness.  The evil could be loved more easily despite their actions; loved, perhaps, into good.  The lost and broken could be found and shown forgiveness; and taught to forgive themselves.  The sick could be comforted in the ways they needed.  And the dying could pass in the blessed knowledge that someone comprehended and valued them them, to the end.  What a doctor I could be! 

            Of course, I was playing an impossible mental game.  I believe that only one father can know everyone that way.  Only God, the true Father and Physician, is capable of that grasp of every man and woman, boy and girl.

            Still, we mortal, inadequate fathers can have that love as our goal.  And now, with Father’s Day upon us, it should fall upon every father to strive for the love and knowledge that the world so desperately needs.  Everyone on earth has had a physical father.  And even if that father was an abject failure, everyone on earth has longed for, and still desires, a good father’s attention. 

            I hope that this Father’s Day, fathers everywhere will look to their children, however young or old, with renewed and profound compassion.  That they will learn all of the intricacies of the lives they helped bring forth and shower love on their sons and daughters, wherever they may be, like never before.  We have far too many ‘baby-daddies.’  We need a surplus of genuine, invested fathers whose love is immense, gentle and sacrificial.

            But I hope that all of them, all of us, can transfer that fatherly love from our immediate families to everyone we meet. 

            Quite frankly, we need not be physical fathers at all.  Every man has the opportunity to be a father to those around.  In every man lies some ability to father, to protect, to nurture and to guide.  Every man can look at his co-workers with new acceptance, his friends with new devotion, his enemies and competitors with new understanding and the stranger on the street with new kindness.

            This Father’s Day, may every man look for someone who needs a father’s love.  And may every man be the father he was made to be in a world of lonely, frightened children of every age and description.

            Because our relative ages and genetic connections are irrelevant when we become fathers like the great Father of us all.

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