I am a father in a variety of ways. I am a natural and biological father, a stepfather, a foster father, and a grandfather.
It is an important part of my identity. And while there were and are frustrations and concerns that come with the roles, I wouldn't trade them, as they say, "for all the tea in China." (Being a coffee drinker that may not be as big a temptation for me as others -- but I wouldn't trade my father roles for all the coffee in Columbia, either!)
The other half of the equation, of course, is being a son. I am the son of my mother, who is alive and well and living in Kentucky, but I am also the son of my own father, Howard Swineford Danner, Jr. The Rev. Howard Swineford Danner, Jr., Dad, died several years ago. I had the distinct honor of co-officiating at his memorial service. But he not only lives on in some way I can't begin to understand or explain, he also lives on through his three sons and his daughter.
Rev. Dr. John H. Danner. PHOTO PROVIDED.
My brothers and I are all fathers.
Between us we have eight biological and step children. Kids who grew up in our homes. Kids we diapered and fed and drove to school and sat with in the hospital and argued with about curfews. Kids who are now all grown up with jobs and in most cases children of their own. Were he still alive my dad would be a great-grandfather eight times over.
My brothers and I had and have very different parenting styles -- but I think all three of us share in common the defining characteristic of our father's parenting style. We make sure our children know we love them. We show it in different ways. But we all make sure each and every one of my father's grandchildren know they are loved by their own dad.
And so it is with God. I don't think the Holy One is exclusively male. I have no issue with calling God Mother. In fact I think it often provides some necessary balance in how we understand God. But my own understanding of God's love for me, was and is shaped by the fact that my father loved me and let me know it. So, Happy Father's Day, God -- and belatedly, Happy Mother's Day as well!