View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Diaconate: God the Father Knows Best?

Further thoughts on why the diaconate now.

I mentioned in Thursday's post that my daughters played a role in my holding off on pursuing the diaconate.

My first marriage broke up when my youngest daughter was just 1. The other two girls were 3 and almost 6.

After it became clear my ex-wife was unwilling to reconcile, I battled for at least joint custody of the girls. I won - if there is such a thing as a winner in a divorce. We were to split custody time almost in half. I worked out a complicated schedule so that I had the girls at points throughout the week.

Even before the divorce, I was an active dad. I was capable of everything from changing diapers to braiding hair.

I had two models in mind of what a father is.

One model was formed by old television shows, especially Father Knows Best. Dad was always there, going the extra mile to take care of and help his kids. I remember one episode in which the youngest girl left something she needed in the woods during a field trip, and dad drove back in a rainstorm and searched in the woods with a flashlight until he found it.

To me, that's what a dad did.

Sort of like God the Father.

The other model was a negative one.

My father had a rough life, and had to work hard to succeed. His view of what being a good father is involved earning as much money as he could to support his family. Not surprising since his own father deserted his family.

But that meant that as a child I had little contact with my father. He was always working. Because he was a salesman, he was often on the road and working evenings. I can remember weeks at a time when I simply would not see him on weekdays (and, indeed, he had to live in another city during the week for a while when I was in high school.) When he was home weekends, he was always doing projects - it seems our houses were always under construction.

That meant that he was never there for school events, school meetings, parties, playing, and so on.

Both dad and I look back with regret on those days.

When I became a dad, I vowed that I would be there for my daughters as much as I could.

After the divorce, it became even more important. I wanted to minimize the scars as much as possible.

School concerts. Open houses. PTA nights. Sports. Girl Scouts events. I was there for everything I could attend - even on nights when they were not "with me."

I chose to limit outside activities to keep my time as free as possible for the girls.

I stopped being a church musician in part so I could sit with them in church.

One of my criteria for a new wife was that she had to be a caring step-mother. (I got lucky!)

But then, in the ministry of the deacon, the family should come first.

I thought of the diaconate off and on for years. I waited, though, until the girls grew. Now with the last one entering her senior year of high school, my time is getting freer.

Oh, except for her awards night last Tuesday, a movie night on Friday, and a parents meeting this Sunday for a model UN trip to Europe!

Then came Deacon Dick's letter. It started me thinking in part because of the timing - arriving the day before my 50th birthday.

Finally, as if God decided I needed to be hit by a 2x4, after I posted my June 4 entry about the letter, an old friend who reads my blog - and who just happens to be the wife of the director of deacon personnel for our diocese - immediately e-mailed me to let me know about a deacon information night that just happened to be scheduled for June 9.


I still maintain God has a sense of humor.

(Next up: Heresy!)


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