Sometime in the land before time, by which I mean the time before I was, my older brother woke in the middle of the night to the low rolling growl of a thunder storm. Like any young boy boasting a reasonable level of common sense and a less reasonable level of imagination, the house-shaking rumbles and shadow-casting flashes of light scared him witless.
My father, a young man then, got him out of bed and they stumbled together to sit in the stairwell where they could easily watch the storm as it rolled across the night sky. They sat side-by-side on the stairs, a large and solid body next to a thin and quaking one and the story goes that as they watched the storm, my Dad explained the science behind it all. This, I'm sure, helped with the reasonable part of my brother's brain, but I have a feeling that it wasn't what my father said that night that made a difference in the stormy nights to come, but rather his presence.
When fathers show up, it isn't the knowledge they bring or the tools or (a-hem) cold hard cash that makes the difference. Every child is grateful, always, for the part of a father that fixes a problem, but what we need, what the world needs, is men who will continue to show up and be present even when they're certain they lack the appropriate tool for the job, even when their hands are empty.
A friend of mine recently posted a quote from Jean Vanier, the founder of the L'Arche communities all over the world,
"We have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviours. We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible."
So this one's for the fathers, including my own. Thank you for all the many, many times you showed up with and without a solution to the problem at hand. Thank you for being willing to be one more "tiny sign . . . that love is possible."
Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you!