There is a photo of me with my father taken when I was a small child. We are on George St. in Sydney at night, probably a Saturday. My parents had taken me into the city, I am told, because I liked the city lights. I have a vague recollection: all the brightness and bustle was somewhat overwhelming, but I was secure. Daddy had my hand.
That is something we want from ‘fathers’ – the encouragement to enter into bigger, exciting, more challenging experiences, while experiencing the support we need to face the unknown. To achieve this is one of the great balancing acts of parenting: encouraging a child (or adolescent or adult) to grow through new experiences yet offering support that does not stifle.
God as ‘Father’ is one of the primary images of our Christian faith. Too often, this image just presents God as a caring, supportive figure. But God also challenges us and often with a sharp jolt, which leads to the complaint, “Why has God done this to me?” Because God wants us to grow up. If we make the radical mental shift and start asking what is positive in the situations we perceive as negative, our lives will become richer and more loving. By asking, ‘What can I learn from this?’, we allow God to take us by the hand and help us transform the dark places of our lives with life-giving light.
Loving God, as I face the challenges that come to me, accepting your support, may I learn how to teach my child/ren to face difficulties with courage and creativity. May your Spirit inspire us to the fullness of life Jesus offers. We ask this in his name, confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb