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Love At This Age

His eyes, open wide and full of fear, seemed to be asking me, “Am I going to be all right?” My eyes, needing to reassure him—who was I kidding? Needing to reassure us both — my eyes replied, “All is well, Dad. All is well.” When did I achieve sufficient spiritual maturity to minister to my own father? It did not happen all at once.

I remember times I suffered when he suffered, like the time a few years back when I received a phone call from my brother telling me Dad was hospitalized after a stroke. There were other times, too, when residing 1700 miles from my first home meant I could not observe for myself the state of my father’s health and therefore I worried.

My recent visit with Dad, which coincided with his temporary placement in a nursing center providing physical therapy services, proved my ability to be authentic in both my roles as daughter and as minister. I account it to my spiritual community that has relied upon me for pastoral support through the years. Whether I visit your loved one in the hospital, or whether I remind you of your spiritual capacity to know your loved one’s wholeness without regard to their physical condition, I am increasing my capacity to be fully present and fearless in the face of distressing circumstances. The reminder I give you reminds me!

Not only was I capable of holding a calming, reassuring stance when I visited my father; I felt and was aware of Love as the only operative power in his presence. It was as if my brain slowed, ceasing its constant flurry of contradictory thoughts. I felt stilled. I could see him. He looked beautiful to me. Age lines mapping his face, loose skin flapping from his arms, non-working legs — I hardly noticed these. What I did notice was his positive outlook, his corny sense of humor, his eagerness to connect with his caregivers, and the fear he revealed silently to me when our eyes locked. Dad respects my work as a minister. He knows that I would not be undone by daughterly feelings that are perfectly appropriate at this time, that I can be both daughter and minister. He gives me the gift of his trust, knowing I am capable of upholding his divine life. Therefore I tell him the truth, silently, “All is well, Dad. All is well.”

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