My father. The call made to me. The call that will be made for me. Some thoughts.

January 7, 2013 | Author: | Posted in Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Article Archive, Family
The oldest surviving panel icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century

The oldest surviving panel icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century

by  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

It was the call one dreads to hear, the call that one has pondered, tried to dodge, done everything to avoid but which at the end will occur, “Your dearly beloved is on the door step of eternity, soon to go into the sweet by and by. This is your notice.”

And no matter how ready you thought you were, in the event you were not ready at all. For out of this lack of readiness emerges every great question of the human condition …

Who was I? Why did I come to this place? What did I do here? Did it matter at all? And the greatest question of all: where am I going, I who am now poised on the brink of what we call “forever”, the place beyond, the place we have so often imagined but which we are now finally to know in all its immeasurable, unutterable, awe-inspiring immensity, dread — and hope?

This time my sister made the call, and it was ominous, “Dad has had a heart attack. It’s serious”. At that moment every task, no matter how important just a moment ago, diminishes at once into insignificance, thrust aside, forgotten. We have expected it, even in moments of choler and rage wished it, but we are not ready for it…

Now this moment is here. We want to do something. We will do anything. But there is nothing to be done… except wait and hope, reach out and touch the living, as we stand together in frail solidarity on behalf of our afflicted beloved, the one of us soon to go where all must go… and too soon.

Thus at this moment where we demand the power to alter pending reality, pray for it, parlay for it, we discover instead the necessity of submission.  Whatever we believed up to this moment, we now know the necessity of resignation. Thus we prepare for the great voyage of our beloved… and help prepare ourselves for our own. Hallelujah!

Acquiescence, jarring meekness, his preparation.

I no longer know, if I even caught it then, when the first manifestation of unwonted gentleness occurred. But in due course I came to know and dread each instance. Who is this strange father? Who had taken away the father I knew and left behind this undesired deceit, this facsimile, this ersatz version of the original? This man is gone now….

Yes, the man who as a child was brought low by rheumatic fever, too often fatal, then laboriously inched back to life. This man is gone.

And what of the man who went to war, the “good war”, to save the rights of people everywhere? Where is this man now? This man is gone.

And what about the man who, with his own hands and determination, built in the wind- swept prairies of the Great Republic a house for his growing family, brick by brick, drop of sweat on drop of sweat under the burning sun that only gave way to the howling snows. No weather, no matter how severe, blunted his progress. This man is gone.

This man turned each day into a better future. He thought no work beneath him and his work was tenacious, determined, done well. This man had grand objectives and, one step at a time, achieved them. This man, too, is gone.

So is the darker, sterner man, the man of hot words, of rigid severities, adamant certainties and an obstinacy all his own. I knew this man, respected this man, fought this man, irritated and ignored this man… but always, in the end, returned to this man, for he was the father and always a force to be reckoned with. This man, so well known, worthy opponent, is gone.

Now a different man has come, a man I do not know.

The chilling declaration, more chilling each time he says it because closer to realization: “I’m ready whenever the good Lord comes for me.”

For a lifetime, my father and I have disagreed on many things, but on none as much as religion. Brought up in the Protestant tradition, he was able to find a comfort, a Saviour, a purpose, a serenity which I could not share, although I sought the belief that sustained him and finally allowed him his beliefs without affronting him with the opposition of mine.

In due course, after argument, anger, confrontation and pain, we arrived at an uneasy truce… and each was careful, so hard won was this truce, to do nothing to threaten it. If we could not agree, at least we could agree to disagree. This state of affairs suited us both once upon a time… but it suits me no longer.

I want to know, but will never ask and therefore never know, how he can find comfort, peace of mind, serenity in a fable, a legend, a belief fraught with riddles, conflicting things, inconsistencies and outrageous matters that defy logic. But though I think these things, cannot get beyond these things, I shall not say these things… for he is ready, he says, and I believe him, and I do not have the right, or the heart, to disagree.

But I do disagree. My father is soon to leave me. This is bad enough, but as things now stand we separate for eternity without the perfect understanding and harmony which would ease my future life. And this is more than sad; this is a tragedy. We will part forever without fully knowing each other… and so we talk of indifferent matters, as two grown men might do, while the thing we call eternity inches closer, inexorable, cannot be stopped, certain in its arrival, frightening in every aspect.

And what is most frightening is that I, his eldest son, am now part of his yesterdays… not of his tomorrows; of his past experiences, not of his last, his final, his greatest and most important journey. And as the commencement of this journey draws nigh, my importance to him, the importance of every element which constitutes his past, his history, drops and drops again.

Quite simply they no longer matter in any way except to think about, reminisce about and pass the time while he awaits the only important thing left in a life which once held a pulsating plethora of important things: he awaits the call he has known for a lifetime was coming for him. And his total being is focused thereon.

Thus he awaits The Future… whilst I and every once important thing and person recedes from significance, from consciousness, from care, cause, or concern. For all of us are of The Past. And we do not matter anymore.

I want this man to fight against the dying of the light, but some inner voice has counseled a very different path… and so the man I knew, the father, drops away to reveal a very different being, his focus solely and rightly on what he is sure is coming and that journey which each of us makes alone and in awe.

And if at this moment, there is pain, suffering and profound grief, these are for the living. For the man I called father has made his resolution, his commitment, and so rests content at the moment I am sore tried, beset by the questions and uncertainties which are the part of every human… but which he has transcended, important no longer.

I want to believe! I try to believe! But in my own honesty I cannot believe and will not demean myself, this moment, or especially him by claiming to believe when I do not!

“Jesus, Lover of my Soul”

Thus he slips away a little more, another minute gone forever, another step taken, more of the past, less of the human future… always closer to his new reality, expectant, curious, anxious but sustained by the Peace of God and the Saviour who takes him to it, his guide, his hope, his sure arm, redeemer and eternal support. I watch, I grieve, but I must be glad for him for he is glad and that now is everything.

And so I give him this, one of the greatest of Protestant hymns, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” published in 1740 by the Reverend Charles Wesley, one of the celebrated family of divines who brought needed reform and passion to the stultified 18th century Church of England. They were called Methodists and my father often adhered to their church and doctrines. This hymn by Wesley, one of over 6000 he wrote was a favorite, and you can find it in any search engine. Go play it now…

“Jesus lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly, While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high. Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past; Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.”

This is a booming, resonant, Protestant hymn in the grand tradition he so values.

But I want to add a variation, “Jesus, Lover of My :Soul’ by the Hillsong Singers.They were inspired by Charles Wesley’s opus to write one of their own, his title, his sentiments, but with new words and contemporary music. It is profoundly moving…

“I love you, I need you/ Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go My Saviour, my  closest friend/ I will worship you until the very end.”

Now that end is nigh, a matter of any moment. A thing certain, ever closer, sure. He is ready and waits with resignation, hope and certainty… whilst I wonder who will make the call for me in my time. Hallelujah!

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today at http://www.Worldprofit.com

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