20 Things Worth Saying

I’m re-posting this as a reminder on the day after my second son’s originally given due date. It’s a reminder as I become a dad all over again in some ways.

In no particular order:

  1. People die everyday but I want you to live a long, full, gorgeous life.
  2. Don’t believe that there aren’t safe spaces for you. We will find them together, protect them, and play in them.
  3. Slow down and be as small as you can for as long as you can, because I only see big things in you. When those things mature, you will turn the world upside down.
  4. Turn off the TV and listen to the words of Jarena Lee, Ida Wells, Booker Washington, WEB DuBois, Benjamin Mays, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Renita Weems, Louis Farrakhan, Michael Dyson, and your pastor if she or he has courage to speak to right-now-issues.
  5. The news does not define you and neither does the pain that envelopes our people. We include the pain in who we are, but we are more than our pain.
  6. I want the best for you, and though I will make mistakes in pursuing that, I commit to you that I’ll live with you in mind for the rest of my life.
  7. Your skin is precious, so precious that it can get you into as much trouble as death if you’re black, free from accountability for your actions if you’re white. This is still the country we live in.
  8. The unmistakable print of God’s finger is on your life and people may not call it that because of their own faith differences, but know deep down that you were made by the most fascinating Creator to live a most fascinating life.
  9. Talk to your oldest relative about the way they make sense of the bottom parts of life, and then write down what you hear and how you feel and how it makes you want to be better.
  10. You are beautiful, you are brilliant, you are beloved. This a benediction I pronounce over my son and I gladly share it with you for your children, for your revision.
  11. Obey those who have rule over you. This is a biblical warrant, so listen to your parents when we tell you “how to act” in public.
  12. Disobey authorities when necessary for goodness sake and do so for a worthy cause. You won’t be the first to “go down” for justice, and when you do, your blood will join the saving stream of God’s heroes.
  13. Make noise in life and be a bit irreverent because the people who’ll complain about your noise will be those of us who have lost our throats, who need you to inspire us, and who will, surprisingly, follow your lead.
  14. Take the helm of something that stirs the hearts of people, challenges the fixed impressions of others, and helps you practice your best values.
  15. Love the women in the world because they will be more reliable than the men and they will support you harder than the men and in your love, you will continually lift them.
  16. Love the men in the world because your love will correct and heal our broken places, places we’ve spent years covering, hiding, avoiding, and convincing ourselves aren’t there.
  17. I do not want you to die, but you will die as will I. Live with that end in mind, and move the world toward something more beautiful, more compelling, more attractive, and more whole while you’re here.
  18. Give something away and get into the habit of giving. It will save you when the world takes and takes and takes because you will have defined yourself and your needs and your hopes in a generous way.
  19. Be a messianic force for peace, tolerating no violence, even the violence in your own soul because that self-control is the strongest grace, the most Christlike offering you can give the world. It may save us.
  20. Tell me what I should have said and feel free to update me as we go along.

A Parent’s Prayer

This is a prayer from Debbie Pearlman’s Flames to Heaven: New Psalms for Healing & Praise. It’s a wonderful collection of psalms which Pearlman translates for our use, especially around themes of healing and celebration. This is number one hundred twenty-two.

Photo Thanks to Danielle MacInnes

Photo Thanks to Danielle MacInnes

I am trying, Life-Arranger, I am trying

To live with uncertainties.

I am trying to yield control,

To listen for the calm beneath.

My task nearly done, I am trying to trust

My nurturing and modeling

Have grown a complete person

Ready to enter the next territory.

All my caring words, instructions

Repeated and reworded are no armor.

Only faith in Your kindness

Will secure each tomorrow.

Letting go my protecting hug,

Releasing my shielding body,

I relax. And then I feel You.

You alone must be the Shield about us.

Only to be whole and to be happy.

Only to be well-loved and productive.

Giving and friendly, untroubled by terrors.

Parents’ sighs rise to You.

Son, Please Forgive Me For…

I’m revisiting earlier lessons from my blog, and here’s a meditative list I could still say, with near accuracy, five years later in asking for my son’s forgiveness. I’m very grateful he’s putting on his own seat belt though:

  1. Not understanding those things I think only you, your angels, and God can understand
  2. Keeping you strapped into your car seat when all those tears fell, asking to be freed
  3. Making you eat more than sweet potatoes and beans
  4. Being less than patient and for moving too quickly more times than I’ve slowed down
  5. Letting your mother make you wear shoes that were too small
  6. Raising my voice and thinking that it would help you understand an instruction
  7. Not forgiving the way you do, quickly and effortlessly
  8. Leaving you in the room with all those relatives you didn’t know in Alabama that day
  9. All those pictures we took
  10. Having strong opinions…about everything
  11. Not finding more ways to put you into the hands of people who love you well and consistently
  12. The mistakes you’ll notice that I won’t
  13. Being angry with you when you were really really little because you cried more than I knew to expect when we brought you home
  14. The times I said you were a “miracle from the Lord” because it was true but didn’t really treat you that way
  15. Failing to love your mother as much as possible to the best of my ability
  16. My dullness when I was tired and too exhausted to enjoy your excitement about some random thing
  17. Overlooking all those moments when you were trying to get me to see something I was too busy to notice
  18. Not listening
  19. Teaching you things by my example and my words which were wrong
  20. For keeping this list so short.