I thought it would be appropriate to repost this from a couple of years ago. Especially since my dad was just here, and our relationship is much improved in the past few years, most especially my perspective on who he is. Also because it's Lent, and I just wrote about the similarities I find between Lent and the high holy days prior to Yom Kippur, which is when I wrote this.
One of the activities that go on during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is to make things right with people, along with prayer and good deeds, and taschliche (To cast.)
We take stones to the sea or to moving water that flows to the sea, and we cast them into it. The stones have our sins written on them, sometimes literally, often figuratively, and we throw them away into deep fast moving water from which we cannot retrieve them. We throw away the things we are sorry for, the things we did wrong and want to make right, the habits that we find hard to escape and slip right back into the next day; anger, rebellion, self-pity, and meanness.
It’s a symbolic act, a picture of the cleansing that takes place on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It’s the day by which all should be made right, and messianic Jews go one step further and celebrate it as the day we remember that all things were made right, for all time, by the only High Priest any longer required, he who is after the order of Melchizedec. (Hebrews 7:11-28) What it teaches me is that I can by no means purify myself. For though I trust that I am forgiven and that my wrong doing truly lays in the “depths of the sea, my stone always seems to come back to me, year after year, day after day, I cast the same stone, feel the same remorse, and experience the same flood of grace.
This year, in the spirit of making things right, I’ve been talking to my dad. He doesn’t really know what’s going on, but I’ve been trying, in my heart, to let go and move on. I’ve been trying to breath through the hurt reactions that come so quickly, to hear past the tapes that always repeat and the years of pain and disappointment and rejection, to hear him as he is right now. He too has stones to cast and he has cast them. I’m tired of trying to figure out if he or my mother is more accurate, if any abuse did or did not take place. Stories change, people revise.
I had a chance this year to drive him away. I held the moment in my hands, knowing that my next few words could prevent me from ever needing to deal with him again. Part of me longed to do it. I just wanted to be free of the stress, the difficulty, the salt in old wounds that his arrival seems to bring. But I didn’t, and I won’t. Because the better part of me doesn’t want things to end like that. I want him in my life. I no longer expect from him the kind of fathering I wish I had had, or the emotional maturity that would make things easier. But I want him around. Our journey together is not yet finished.
I am trying to approach him with grace, the same grace that has been extended towards me time and again without ceasing. I know that he loves me, and I know that he did the best he could do, given the tools that he had. I want to forgive the rest. Good intentions don’t keep me warm at night, but with the life that I have now and the family I have been given, I don’t need any more than that, any more.
There is still a little girl who cries for her daddy from time to time, but I suspect she is starting to grow up too, to catch up with the rest of me. And so with deep breaths, but more lightness than I had thought possible, I will close this little chapter of my life for now. While I may look at it again some day, I don’t intend to for a long time. On that note there are a few old posts that I will be deleting, because I don’t want their existence to become an obstacle to any future relationship we may have. They were real, and helpful to me to say, but I no longer want them public. It feels right, I believe it is right to take them down.
That is all.