Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father’s Day!

Yes, he is expecting this. It’s not my fault Mother’s Day comes first!

My dad has taught me a lot of stuff. When I was six, he took me skiing for the first time in the mountains of Utah. Now, I know I have mentioned before that I am an intrinsically cautious person, but I don’t think it is until you hear that it took me hours to get down the mountain my first time (bunny hill people, this wasn’t black diamond stuff), with my father skiing backwards in front of me, trying to encourage me (trying not to show his building frustration), that you can realize how deeply engrained it is.

But I also know that just as deeply engrained, is his love for me. He taught me other things as well (fortunately they went much better). When I was little, I learned how to type in his office at the church (for some reason I was completely enamored with his typewriter). Growing up, he instilled in me a love for the outdoors and camping (even after some misadventures; ‘I looked back, and she had disappeared, so I looked over the edge, and there she was!’). He encouraged me in my own interests by helping me with my chemistry set in the basement. And when I chose to major in Construction Management, he taught me how to play golf.

One of the things that makes learning from him easier, is that he himself, loves to learn. He is a chronic student who is always exploring, looking for new ways to challenge himself physically, mentally or ethically.

After 20 years of being a pastor, he was a little over 10 years away from retirement. He was a little older, a little wiser and, after staying up all night with a family in the hospital, a little more tired. He recognized that he couldn’t pull all nighters quite as easily as he could in his 20’s.

But he also still wanted a challenge, something that not only new, but that took his values and ethics to a new level. He changed jobs and became a community organizer for Spokane Alliance (new link to the right). Now he’s working to help the people of Spokane (the city where I grew up and he and mom my still live), by organizing them together to have a stronger voice. They work on issues of living wage jobs, education, the environment and health care, among others. When he was thinking about moving to this new position my mom, sister and I all agreed with him on the change. Not because it was easy, we all wanted him to relax and start taking life a little slower, but because we could see in his eyes the excitement of the new possibilities, the new ways in which he could see his community grow into greater health.

Years ago, this challenge-seeking meant that with the assumed responsibilities of a pastor to their congregation, he was gone a fair amount. But between my mother’s persistence and his recognizance of his own values, he scheduled time to spend with my sister and me, and kept those appointments.

During the years most teenagers only saw their parents when leaving and arriving home, my sister and I each went on short trips with our dad, like fishing in Idaho, backpacking in Montana, being tourists in Seattle, and canoeing in Wyoming.

I know that if something (like his relationship with me) is important to him, he will find a way, find time, find something to do. And I have learned to do the same with my values. I seek to challenge myself in ways I could not have imagined when I faced that scary mountain ski hill with him. I found a way to work with an organization that I believe is doing something extremely valuable. I decided that the time to make a difference is now. And I have something to do that allows me to truly contribute and see my international community grow into greater health.


Dad said...

This may be your best blog yet! I find my self going back to it over and over. Of course, I like to read your recollection of time spent together. Even more, I come back to look at your picture. You are about as cute as a kid can be.

Nic said...

Not that you're biased :)