Stories for Love Shines - the blessings from my father.....
My father turns 80 today. It is a huge milestone to reach 80 years of living. Dad has experienced cancer for the first time this past year and gone through 2 surgeries but is coming out strong. He has been determined to live life to the full and has stayed active in any way he can.
As I have reflected on who my dad is, I am grateful for many qualities he has. One quality that has been a real inspiration to me is his love of staying physically healthy and strong. He learned to ski in his 40s and continued that sport until last year - he hopes to hit the slopes again. He plays tennis, bikes, and loves a vigorous round of ping pong. His activities have put him in the top percentile of his age group with health and given him a wonderful quality of life.
Another gift my father gave me was his own journey in following his dreams. After being a pastor for many years and then a counsellor, he decided to go back to college and become an ESL teacher. To make a decision like this at 65 years of age takes a lot of courage, sense of adventure and determination. To pursue following the Love shines project - I have had to face the fear and thought in my head - I AM TOO OLD - it is TOO late for me to dream.But knowing that dad kept dreaming about new things and then trying them out has been an encouragement to me in my own life to take risks and to try.
Perhaps the greatest gift he has given me that has influenced my life and is truly a part of the Love Shines album. The gift my father gave me is his life of prayer. As a child, if I wanted to find my father, I would look for him in his home office. Many, many times I would silently open the door to find my father on his knees by his office chair. He would be holding his head in his hands and all was still and quiet. As a child and teen I knew that my father greatly valued his spiritual journey and that it was the centre of all the decisions he made. He sought through prayer to find strength, direction and wisdom for his role in the community and his personal life.
One way that dad pursued his life of prayer would be to go away for personal silence at retreats throughout the year. It would be time set apart from schedules and demands and would be filled with time to listen and to rest.
It has been a discovery for me in my 30s that this practice of time set in silence is a powerful gift. These times for me have become like anchors in my life....setting my course and giving me stability. It is a gift to know that my father also lived this way and maybe without realizing it, set an example of a lifestyle of prayer.
Happy Birthday Dad - thanks for all you are in my life.