it’s hard to know exactly what you’re made of
but I am somehow connected to frost on the mailbox
and dozens of library receipts
airplane turbulence and philosophy lectures
the jump to the heart when a deer blows in the woods
and christmas lights
twenty-one years and still I am barely acquainted with wisdom
but the key (one key) is this:
the key is to stalk the planet like it’s a celebrity and you’re the paparazzi.
the key is to live as though you are begging the universe for an autograph.
and in the indian drum thunder or the blue cedar berries dripping dew
the question of a God-breathed child and the gravity that brings you back around
the universe takes up the pen
I don’t have much to give you. A little manual labour, some cookies from time to time, a bit of music when the baby isn’t sleeping, and these words. Just a few clumsy words. You’re the man who has everything- you say that every day is like Christmas. You don’t need gift-wrapped, earthly treasures because, for you, happiness is just a book by Chesterton on the banks of the Frio River. I wish I could give you that today. I wish I could find a spectacular way to make your 50th birthday special. But I know you prefer simplicity to spectacle, and so instead of a gift wrapped in paper and tied with ribbons, I give you a letter wrapped in memories and tied with words that will never die. I’m not sure if, when I’m finished, I’ll be proud to set these words free upon eternity, but I hope they honour you despite their inadequacy.
I cannot hope to express what a blessing you have been in my life. In a world parched for courage; a world silently calling out for its men to stand up and be examples of Micah 6:8; a world full of children looking for someone worthy of admiration, I had to look no further than you. In a world packed with absentee fathers, you were always there. You were my lighthouse on the shore, guiding me to safe harbours. You were the rainstorm in a drought, the philosopher among the peasants, the work by Lewis on a shelf of works by lunatics. All these you were, and are, to me. When I wanted your advice, and especially when I didn’t, you pointed me along on the straight and narrow path. And whenever I sat down on the journey, you showed me the ugliness of the pools of apathy I poured for myself. You were, for me, a living picture of who I wanted to become. Perhaps that is because you were, and are, and are becoming a living picture of Christ. He was, and is, and is to come in you. I have followed you as you uncovered the truth He wanted you to find, seen you bind it to your heart, and prayed for such devotion to be found in me. I have watched you hold our family on your shoulders, lightening our burdens, and prayed for such faithfulness to be found in me. I have read the books you love, listened to the music you enjoy, laughed at the jokes you find funny, and cried when you were passionate, because if you think something is worthy of praise, it is. Over time, I’ve come to admire all those things for myself, and not just because you do. But I think that just makes me trust you even more.
You’ve been my guardian and my inspiration; my father and my friend. The Lord has done wondrous things for you, and thus, for me. Thank you for being the wind of love and clarity and nobility in my life. Thank you for the evenings hitting golf balls in the empty lot across the street and the harpsichord concerts in winter. Thank you for the times you took the frogs out of the pool, the games of “Squirrel” in the yard, the annual trips to the Dollar Tree in the mall at Christmas time, and the annual trips to RiverBend in the summer. Thank you for the times you apologized when you were wrong and the times you made me apologize when I was wrong. Thank you for forcing me to read those long, boring Carson history books, getting me all the way from long division to derivatives, and blasting Praetorius in the car. Thank you for reading The Lord of the Rings aloud, driving me to all those voice lessons, coming up with my Facebook password, and twirling me around to Joplin before we bought the coffee table. Thank you for brainstorming more syllables to add to the word, “antidisestablishmentarianism”, setting the alarm during tournaments, and all those Mars Hill audio tapes and discussions about God and culture and ideas. Thank you for showing me how to stretch barbed wire and spread peat moss and rip my clothes and get dirty knees working on the land. Thank you for teaching me to shine with a light and follow a star that isn’t mine. You have been all and everything a father is called to be, and I am blessed and honoured to be an arrow in your quiver. Wherever I go, your legacy will go with me. I am proud to carry it.
Your Devoted Daughter
“I felt it first when I was younger… a strange connection to the light. I tried to satisfy the hunger; I never got it right. So I climbed a mountain and built an altar… looked out as far as I could see. And everyday I’m getting older. I’m running out of dreams. (I’m running out of dreams.) But Your love, Your love…. The only thing that matters is Your love. Your love is all I have to give. Your love is enough to light up the darkness! It’s your love, Your love. All I ever needed is Your love.”
Yesterday, I was accosted by my 19th birthday. Amid all the activities, I managed to allow myself some time for reflection, because one shouldn’t simply blow through life without remembering what made life what it is. So, in no particular order, I recalled to memory my preschool years (with bangs and Lamb Chop and playing grocery store in the kitchen and Bambi), my elementary influences (with Jungle Jam and suddenly green eyes and my drama queen t-shirt and patient parents and playing ‘house’ with my cousins at Christmas), middle school turmoil (with choir obsession and fashion realization and The Chronicles of Narnia and questions about Christianity and international student ministries and changing churches), and the combined confusion and clarity of high school (with state-wide singing competitions and The Lord of the Rings and NCFCA and the beauty of sound doctrine and the passions of wonder and love and voracious reading and poetry and discovering what friendship means).
“You know the effort I have given, and You know exactly what it cost. And though my innocence was taken, not everything is lost. (Not everything is lost, no.) You’re the hope in the morning. You’re the light when the night is falling. You’re the song when my heart is singing. It’s Your love! You’re the eyes to the blind man. You’re the feet to the lame man walking. You’re the sound to the people singing. It’s Your love!
Your love is all that I needed. All I ever needed is Your love.” [Brandon Heath]