Jun 18, 2017

Father’s Day 2017

Until I was fifty I thought I would never have children. I felt like the eternal boy who was happy never to grow up. I cherished my freedom and had no muscle in me that wanted to settle down. Then I met my wife Joan Hanley, who became a Sikh and changed her name to Hari Kirin.  When I met her she was pregnant with Abraham, and I thought nothing could ever come of that meeting that stunned me. But somehow we got together and had a child, Siobhán, who also became a Sikh and changed her name to Ajeet. So I became the father of two beautiful children, who have grown up into truly remarkable young people.

At first it was not easy being a father, though I felt deep love for the children and enjoyed family life. I was too much a child myself to take on the role of parent easily. But I always kept in mind my own father, who told me once that he had trouble growing up. He was young in spirit until the day he died at one hundred, but he was also wise and protective.

My father taught me many things, like how to cut wood with a hand saw, how to catch a baseball, why water condenses on a car windshield, how sperm swim eagerly to eggs, how to be a good husband, how to treat the elderly with respect, how not to be racist and how death is part of life. He did  not do this in passing but really took on the role of teacher. Once, when my mother was dying, he asked me and my brother to his house for a somewhat formal meeting on how to deal with medical issues as my mother’s condition deteriorated.

As a father he was a kind but firm leader. When other members of the extended family might be upset by an accident or a medical emergency or a death, he would come through, his emotions evident but not interferring, and deal with the problem. He liked to play:  cards, golf, children’s games, volley ball, baseball. 

So I had my father’s spirit to help me in the job I thought I would never have. I copied him, as best I could. I have always felt grateful to have had such a wonderful dad, and I’d give anything to be able to have a laugh with him this Father’s Day.

But I also think of Father’s Day as the commemoration of the Great Father, the fathering principle or archetype that holds the world together and that we need so badly today. When people, especially women, speak disparagingly of the patriarchy, I assume they are thinking of the absence of the real father spirit, usually replaced by an anxious, symptomatic, neurotic fathering that is overbearing, self-serving and aggressive.  This is not the father spirit but rather the bent insanity that fills in when the genuine father spirit is lost.

As a psychotherapist I often see the struggles with life that derive from faulty fathering, and apparently there is a lot of it.  Both young men and women suffer when the father is either absent or twisted, because we all need good fathering throughout our lives.  I’ve been blessed to have several strong and effective father figures, men who have had the equanimity to offer paternal guidance when it was needed. For me it has made all the difference, and I celebrate those great father figures today.

I am also acutely aware that the world needs good fathering to keep it at peace and creative. Yet we lack that gift in so many places, and history is full of moments when the archetypal father has gone missing. It could be said that the planet itself is in distress and danger precisely because we the residents haven’t been able to find good fathers.

I still say a prayer I learned as a child that begins, in my own translation, “Our Father in the sky, may your name be held as holy.” Many spiritual traditions honor the archetypal father as a presence in the sky, a place where we behold our ideals and highest expectations. It is this fathering that I pray for today in a world sorely in need of it. If each of us fathers can find it in ourselves to embody this holy spirit of the Father, there is a good chance that we will survive. But this outcome is not a given. We need to feel how dire our situation really is and do everything possible to find some good fathering for the days ahead and for the children yet to be born. They deserve the best dads possible.

written by Thomas Moore
  • Irene Lewis Jun 19, 2017 Reply

    Father’s Day, seen under the “comercial/marketing ” light, never really made sense to me. When I think of it this way, the way you describe, all of a sudden it takes
    on an entirely new, meaningful significance!

  • Sam Phelps Jun 19, 2017 Reply

    Wonderful, inspiring story. And I agree, all children truly do deserve the best fathers possible. Thank you.

  • Johnny Ismael Durán Romero Jul 4, 2017 Reply

    I appreciate your comment. My father figure, the most important male presence in my life, was my Grandfather and one of my uncles. I thought I was my grandfather’s child, and I found strange a comment he once made referrring to my youngest uncle as his youngest child because I thought that I was his youngest child. I admire your work greatly. I write poetry, have a bilingual small poetry book, Spanish and English, and have translated a couple of books both from English to Spanish and vice versa. You are one of the writers I most admire.

  • Mark Schader Jul 21, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for this reflection. I am a university counselor, working with freshman, many of whom are from the poorer sections of Chicago-land and single parent families. Many of them have grown up with absent or twisted fathers. I often feel an urge to provide them with a positive fathering experience.

  • Catherine ‘Kitsy’ Stratton Sep 26, 2017 Reply

    This is lovely, healing, and so true. My son is currently reactive and reeling in confusion about issues that might not have thrown him off-balance had he grown up in the presence of a ‘good father.’ (My sons’s father left us when my son was born; my son was 5 days old.) I did not know how to be a good mother…much less a good father. All I can do now is pray that my son be reached internally…spiritually…at the soul…by eternal father love.

  • Sheila Bartle Nov 30, 2017 Reply

    In the midst of so many accusations of sexual harassment, I feel the need to posit the existence of the gentle but manly man whose strength is not dominance but self-containment. My father was such a man, and I have known many. But they seem hidden today.

  • Julie Franks-Murray Feb 9, 2018 Reply

    This is what I love about your soul and your work: you offer alternative perspectives that can transmute trapped thinking while holding fast to acceptance and understanding. You speak the truth into something and, instead of damage, there is opportunity for healing. I read Soul Mates on a plane to Ireland in 2013, and it gave me the permission and space to see my relationships in a new way that eventually made all the difference. Just wanted you to know how much your words have helped and comforted me. THANK YOU.

Leave a comment

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Thomas Moore Soul LLC, 200 Gilson Rd., Jaffrey, NH, 03452, http://thomasmooresoul.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact