Many of you will remember Ken Burn’s documentary on the Civil War. I enjoyed the different pictures that were shown, I listened to the comments and was intrigued with the music that was played. All in all it was a wonderful series about a very dark time in American history. One of the episodes featured a letter by a soldier killed in the battle of Bull Run. Sullivan Ballou realized the peril he faced in the looming clash, so he wrote a poignant letter to his wife. In part he said, “If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.”
Many times it is much more difficult for men to express deep emotions. For some reason or another we try to squelch the impulse to put our tenderest feelings into words. I have always known that my father loved me. That was never questioned. Even when he made me cut the grass, or when he had to discipline me, I knew that he loved me. I don’t recall ever hearing my father tell me he loved me until about one year ago. I had been visiting and daddy walked me to the door and for some reason said “I love you.” This Father’s Day, many men will receive expressions of love, but they may have trouble voicing their love in return. It is important to understand that there is nothing more masculine than to express love to our loved ones. That’s true not only for fathers but for all of us. We can bestow no gift more precious to those who are wrapped up with us in the bundle of life. Reflect for a moment on the words of John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). Part of what John is telling us is that we need to boldly declare our love, not only for our loved ones but for the One who gave His life for us. I think that with this in mind, we can make more strides in being the father, son, man that we need to be. Wouldn’t it be powerful on this Father’s Day to emulate that courageous fallen Civil War hero and give voice to your love.
As many of you know, my father is no longer able to speak. The dementia that he is dealing with has taken that ability away. When I visit with him now, he will try to say things to me, but it comes out as simply gibberish. As I leave I tell him that I love him. He will look at me and in my heart I know that he is telling me that he loves me also. I am truly thankful for my father, just as each of you are of yours.
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