Happy Father’s Day!
Today we remember all of the fathers, all of the dads, all of the grandfathers and great-grandfathers. And all of the beloved father-figures in our lives — whatever gender they might be!
So, today, of course, I remember my dad — who was a force-of-life in my life. (And I know what you’re thinking! “OMG!! Is she talking about her dad again!) Yes, I confess I am and yes, it is way too often. (Though my dad might disagree!)
My father, God rest his soul, did every thing he thought he should do. Every fatherly thing – to become the dad that he aspired to be. That he might “raise up his children in the way that they should go” – as it says somewhere in the Bible.
Every time we left the house and went out the door, my dad would invariably remind us,“Remember! You’re a Peacock!” As if we could forget!
Above all, he cheered on our education.
If he caught us watching television in the middle of the day, he would turn the TV off and tell us to go read a book – and our house was full of books – a veritable library.
Even our vacations were quasi-educational – meaning we went to Colonial Williamsburg a bazillion times! (I can still recite the dialogue from the Visitor’s Center little film “The Story of a Patriot.”)
And my father was very protective of his family – specifically, from the outward and visible dangers. Being a doctor, he went above and beyond the run of the mill precautions to keep his family safe.
At the beach, he would stand on the sand, making sure he could count all six of our heads bobbing up in the waves. And if got in the water, we had to get out because he would not be able to watch us.
Before smoke detectors, my dad had fire alarms installed and had us practice fire drills.
My dad did not allow ashtrays in our house. Smoking was forbidden – for both fire and lung cancer prevention.
Firearms – even BB guns – were NEVER permitted. My dad had lost too many young men on his operating table in southeast D.C.
And just a little over the top, he would not even let us twirl sparklers on the Fourth of July!
My dad died in 2004. He would be 96 years old today. So, if you can hear me, dad, I miss you very much and a very Happy Father’s Day in heaven!
And today, I also remember the father of my children – William – whom you have never met before. Though we parted ways in 2003, from the very beginning of fatherhood, he has always been a really good dad. He was a stay-at-home dad – when barely anyone knew what that was. He went to the Lamaze classes, changed diapers, and coached baseball teams. An excellent cook, he did all of the grocery shopping. (One of his most redeeming qualities!)
And he too was a protective dad. We lived in Del Ray on East Windsor Avenue – directly across the street from the fire station. When the kids were little, they loved it! Whenever they heard a siren, they would come running and press their noses up against the front porch windows to watch the red fire engines speed away. But he did not want them to get run over! So, my kids were not allowed to ride bicycles or roller blade in the street. They were pretty bummed about that — and still to this day — they will never let us forget!
It may seem like a little thing, but William always made sure the kids slathered on their sunscreen – at least SPF 50 – when we were at the beach! And now that is where William happily lives.
Happy Father’s Day, William! Thank you for our amazing kids!
And it has been delightful to see my youngest child take so easily to parenthood. Jacob, along with his partner Loucie, is father to four! Three rambunctious and inquisitive boys. Zhen, the teenager just went to his first prom. Zakai (11) loves super soakers and Roblox. And Zell (9) loves race cars and video games. (Well, they all love video games! Jacob and Loucie too.)
And two years ago, just as the pandemic struck little Zelda Quinn came into the world. A chubby and radiant cherub, a little budding feminist, she shares a birthday with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Jacob is in the grocery business — working all through the pandemic on the front lines with the public at Publix Food. A homebody and down to earth kind of a dad, he is now losing his hair, going bald, just like his dad!
Happy Father’s Day, Jacob!
And in our current climate and culture, there is another protective perspective to parenting that is paramount to Jacob and to Loucie because their children are African American, their children are bi-racial, their children are Black.
So, it is very poignant today that we also celebrate Juneteenth. If you are unfamiliar, let me introduce you to the holiday’s history.
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.
After the war came to a close in the spring of 1865, General Granger’s arrival in Galveston that June signaled freedom for Texas’s 250,000 enslaved people. Although emancipation didn’t happen overnight for everyone—in some cases, enslavers withheld the information until after harvest season—celebrations broke out among newly freed Black people, and Juneteenth was born. That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.History.org
Juneteenth is Independence Day, Freedom Day, a Day of Jubilee. A day of celebration for this not yet perfect union, with the hope of liberty and justice for all.
Nine year old Zell, the little philosopher asked me this question: “Is the future real? Will there be more than one person there?”
“Yes, Zell, yes. The people who love you will make sure that the future is full of wonderful people and wonderful things and wonderful you.“
And isn’t this what God, our Father intended for us all?
And this is how Jesus talks to Abba – in Hebrew – his dad.
Our Father, who art in heaven.
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.
On earth as it is in heaven.
Maybe your dad taught you this prayer when you were little. We know the words by rote and recite them like a nursery rhyme – not always remembering what they mean.
There is another version from another prayer book that I think helps unpack just that. It’s the New Zealand Prayer Book’s version of the Lord’s Prayer which you may never have heard before.
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and shall be.
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.New Zealand Prayer Book
It’s beautiful isn’t it? Evocative and provocative, too.
Of the Holy One’s love we are all begotten. Born of God’s love, we are able to love in return.
Happy Father’s Day, Holy One!
Happy Father’s Day!
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog