So Soon to Fly Away . . . But Comes the Day

There comes that time for birds to away-fly the nest,
And this is best as the Creator provides for maturity
In the surety of independence in security of the self
After being brought the necessities of life for a time
And taught the ways of night and day in this world,
But, oh, how hard for papa to let go, as the bard tells:
He would practically sell his soul to keep them home
And he could write a tome of all of the reasons why
They are not quite ready to fly away into sunlit day;
Instead, he sheds many tears and lets go of his fears
As he promises always to be near when if need calls
And they’re about to fall, but there is yet a farewell
The pain of which only parents can tell . . . farewell;
Not that they will not see them again as time spins,
But it is different — a sort of reverent suffering —
As the new birds fly high into the sky as papa sighs:
He once flew to that altitude with confident attitude
And an healthy amount of gratitude to his Maker . . .
Ah! But is his offspring not now flying higher than he,
And is it not supposed to be this way . . . yes, this day!
And so the generations pass with lad and lass gone
While the next one is given birth on this age-old earth
. . .
So it is and so it shall be


No Gift to Give His Children Except . . .

He has no gift to give his children this Christmas
Except love, hugs and kisses . . . and a heart-poem
. . .
If I could give you a large mansion with room for expansion, I would;
If I could give you gold, as cold as the metal might be, I surely would;
If I could give you the stars so far away, I would give them one by one;
If I could give you fine clothing and a nice bottle of wine, I would do so;
If I could give you the moon, so soon would I fetch it down, all for you;
If I could give you cars to travel afar and a reservoir of jewels, I would;
Yes, if I could give you both all of this and more from some Santa store
Please know that I would, and allow this thought grow in your hearts:
I would give you material goods made of silver, metal, jewels ‘n wood,
But I can give you only my love and pray you do not shove this aside,
As well as my affection with no rejection nor reduction in my gratitude
For the two of you . . .
You both are my own gift as you lift my spirit to an heavenly altitude!
So with this I say, ‘merry Christmas’ with a kiss you surely won’t miss


Sweet 16 . . . How It Hurts

How can it be that you’ve grown so quickly?
Ah! It was only yesterday that I carried you
Along the pathway through the city park
And secured you against that dog’s bark;
Has it been so long since I taught you
To play hide and seek, to ride a bike?
Was it not only a few weeks ago
I showed how to climb the tree?
Now I look and see beauty in a young lady,
And I’m stung and tongue-tied and defied
By time that’s passed by so quickly,
Deftly stealing away my little girl . . .
How can it be that you’re now so grown up?
Only yesterday I was shown a baby,
But today I see an outstanding lady!
Nobody told me such loveliness in my child,
So meek and mild, could hurt so very deep
Where I will forever keep you in my heart;
And can I say, ‘happy birthday?’ Yes . . .
And many more as you tear my heart away
And say, too, ‘I love you . . . and always will!’

And I Long for Forgiveness

Oh, my children, how I’ve tried and applied myself
In giving you my heart and soul and trying to fill
Role of loving father, but I’ve failed and no one
Can bail me out or sail me to a more peaceful shore;
No, I’m left to abhor myself and I cannot blame you
For the shame you feel in being my children, locked
In the prison of binding blood, finding no way
Of escape, and there is nothing I can do to retrace
Past mistakes for the sake of your joy and happiness;
No, I can only fade away into the shades of Hades
Where such as I belong, though I long for redemption;
But there is no exemption, it seems, for such as I,
Though I cry and try to make amends and be the man
That I was always meant to be in this sea of life;
So what can I say except fare-thee-well till bell
Tolls on Judgment Day when all ways will be revealed?

And I long for forgiveness

Times Flies, Then ‘Goodbye’

Child, I’m not frozen,
And I’ve chosen to spend my time with you,
So cheer up, my dear,
And don’t veer away from me every day…
Time does fly, my child,
And then we must say ‘goodbye’ at last;
Then comes a fast blast,
When you realize how you cast your dice;
But, dear, I am here now,
So how do you want to spend your time,
As the clock chimes eleven,
And so soon heaven will surely call me home?

Ma’at and the Pyramid of Truth, Part IV

Ma'at2Through mist and bogs, and numinous fogs
Ma’at led me from rattle of recent battle
And prattle of lies to the city of Seattle,
Again donned for place in this space of time;
Regained my composure with closure of lips
Upon lips, tightly pulling us hips to hips.

“I want to show you this, so you will know,
And grow more in maturity, wisdom, purity
And self-surety; for there is no need here
To end your life to end your strife, love;
For in the Abyss there is no peace and bliss,
But greater pain, famine; you’d be a gamin.”

“Look here through this drear avenue window,
And what do you see?” Obeying, I cut a glance
Through the smut covered glass and saw a lass,
Curled alone in the corner of a gloomy room,
Holding her doll like some sacred shawl, crying;
“She has no papa to care, to bear her life.”

Tears rolled down my face; I thought I’d drown
In sadness; “And mama works through the trauma,
And cannot stand the demands she understands
In caring for this child, so mild, so innocent;
Can you see, dear man, that you can be father
To one of these; to fill and please their hearts?”

Another twist and twirl, hurl from place to place,
And we were on a sidewalk, busy and loud with talk;
“Do you see the street urchin, no shoes for feet,
who’s been beaten, cheated, and ere so mistreated?”
I nodded, prodded, “Has the child no where to go?”
“Maybe a father to gather and slather him with love?”

Yelling loud, obnoxious, from proud-suited, ugly man;
Young lass, head hung, silent tongue, clearly stung:
“How damn stupid can you be? You see I’m slam busy!
I don’t have time to look for you in some pop-shop!
No damn brain, you drain me, and strain my nerves!”
Father, yes; papa, no. “Do you see what you can be?”

Ma’at wrapped me in her strong arms, free from alarm,
EyeAnd gently whispered intently, “You have been freed
To meet great need, my love; for there are so many
And any would be thrilled to have your warm affection,
And projection of love in real relational connection;
Rejected by your own, you have not been thrown away!”

Another kiss and tighter squeeze to ease my heart pain;
“You are flowing along the third stream, and growing,
Not blown off course, but shown new ways for new days;
Remember long ago, I told you this is the Third Dawning;
Ah! yes, you remember the December night dream-vision…
You are interlaced with grace that flows at peaceful pace.”


Trail of Tears Left Behind

old manSome of us live and leave behind a trail of tears,
No matter how much we love those near and dear;
We struggle forward, but onward on downward slope
With no hope of upward climb to hear the chime
Of love, peace, and life-success to cease the pain
And break the chain that binds us down, and blinds
Us to any hope, so we no longer have desire to cope.

“Best Daddy in the World” now putrefies with lies
Told by vipers, soul-snipers, and dæmonic pipers;
And all memory of affection, protection, direction
And every expression of love flies out the window
As morbid deception conquers truth ~ no conception
Of reality ~ and we are left bereft of any reason
To live, to strive to thrive; we have been deprived.

Once father and mother, but don’t bother; it’s over!
Rules change and so has the game; it’s not the same;
Nobody quite understands the deep pain of betrayal
Nor comprehends the acid rain of simple endurance;
Ball and chain drags you further into black moraine;
Grave ready, soul steady, your heart already buried;
Apple of God’s eye? Rotten now and long forgotten.

lonely-manOr is there another turning on this burning journey?
Or yet another tourney in the flurry and hellish fury
Of this existence called life; reason for persistence
In moving on yet further to perjure oneself in torture,
Or make fine departure like arrow from skilled archer?
Will there yet be another chance to dance in delight
Through the day and night in sight of heavenly angels?

Some of us live and leave behind a trail of tears,
No matter how much we love those near and dear…
As they turn away, say no word to hear, no smile
For the miles they now leave between their life
And yours, despite tears cried and all you’ve tried,
Prayers you’ve prayed, and the pain you cannot hide;
All seems at an end … but is there another bend
In the road that still lies ahead, still to be tread?


Who Will Tell Me Who I Am? Thinking About Identity in Early Childhood

young-children3Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.  (Martin Luther King, Jr.) And thus my prayer:  “God have mercy; may it not be said of me. Yet, too, help me season ‘hard, solid thinking’ with love and humility. Amen.”

Even commonly used terms and terminology ought to be defined, perhaps especially in addressing serious subjects, something this writer failed to do in an earlier article on the subject of gender-identity questions in early childhood development. Thankfully, there is almost always opportunity to correct such mistakes, as I shall endeavor to do now. And in so doing, we might begin with the whole idea of what it means to actually be male/female, man/woman, masculine or feminine, and for this a brief quote from the World Health Organization proves helpful:

Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term “gender”, and how it differs from the closely related term “sex”.

“Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

“Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

To put it another way:

“Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.

Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.

To recapitulate, then, “sex” is biological, physiological characteristics, while “gender” refers to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes largely defined in community, by society. And so, too, when we say “male” and “female” we are referring to anatomy, whereas “masculine” and “feminine” are words used of gender traits, i.e. those largely socially-defined “roles, behaviors, activities and attributes” mentioned above. Alright … so far, so good.

(Except, perhaps, that we need to also mention what might otherwise seem so obvious. That is, that “anatomical” derives from the word “anatomy” and means “of or relating to bodily structure, physical anatomy.” There seemed to be some confusion on this point in at least one article I read … or, at least, an obvious misuse of the term. However, having stated the obvious, one wonders if it might not be preferable to refer to “anatomical sex,” although that might seem somewhat redundant, rather than “anatomical gender,” which is actually more common.)

Consequently, my son was born an anatomical male; my daughter, thirteen months prior, an anatomical female. However, they each displayed various gender traits in varying degrees, at least as we are using the definition of “gender” and “gender traits” as mentioned above. Moreover, these traits were (and continue to be) varied and somewhat fluid, an observable fact that never particularly bothered me. They shared toys and games, liked various colors at different times, even shared some clothing items (depending on where they were in their growth spurts!).

And harping back to an even earlier blog, what if my daughter had displayed “masculine” characteristics such as confidence, courage, determination, integrity, fortitude and compassion? Well, she did and that was wonderful! Of course, all these are virtues admirable in anyone and not particularly masculine or feminine anyway, as I contended in that earlier blog article, and my then-wife and I actively worked to instill these virtues in both of our children.

And if my son had displayed characteristics such as gentleness, empathy and sensitivity? Again, wonderful and, in fact, he did and still does. Again, very desirable, virtuous qualities that are not particularly masculine or feminine, a truth upheld in the sacred writings and traditions of most religions, even though they are commonly associated with femininity (or seemingly so), at least in Western culture(s). But now for the tougher question, and more to the point:

How would we have felt and reacted had our son approached us with the declaration that he was “really a girl,” or “felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body?”  Before attempting an answer to this thorny question, we need to look at two more terms, more complex than the ones we have already defined, which have been fairly “simple,” (where simple simply means “not overly-involved, complex, or elaborate;” as in, “short, simple and to-the-point.”) We need to introduce the concepts of “individuation” and “socialization,” and briefly consider what they mean.

Individuation, according to Jungian psychology, is a process of psychological integration, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. “In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated (from other human beings); in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.” (So said Jung.)

Socialization, is an ongoing process whereby an individual acquires personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position, status and/or identity-in-community.

The idea of socialization should be held in tandem with individuation. Distinct concepts, they are nevertheless complimentary, even interdependent, though contradiction and conflict invariably arise in the process of both, as might reasonably be expected, of course. Point in fact, individuation does not occur in isolation or, put another way, on one’s own. “No man is an island unto himself” may be a cliché but true nonetheless, and no one “self-identifies” completely apart from the “other,” the larger surrounding community.

Perhaps Oscar Wilde overstated the case when he opined, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” But he was not far off from author Chuck Palahniuk, who veritably howls, “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” Or the writer David Sedaris, who wittingly submits that “all of us take pride and pleasure in the fact that we are unique, but I’m afraid that when all is said and done the police are right: it all comes down to fingerprints.”

Ah, yes, and whose “fingerprints?” The “fingerprints” of many would be the vague and general answer, but most especially and specifically that of parents and family. And these “fingerprints” are left in virtually every facet of life, including physiological cognitive development. As noted by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child:

We have long known that interactions with parents, caregivers, and other adults are important in a child’s life, but new evidence shows that these relationships actually shape brain circuits and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes, from academic performance to mental health and interpersonal skills.

There are, of course, other important contributing factors in early childhood development, specifically with regards to a maturing sense of personal identity, such as: economics and environment, religion and education, media and entertainment, art, literature, music, etc. To a great extent, then, perhaps the 19th, early 20th century Russian author, Lev S. Vygotsky, was right in his assertion that it is only “through others [that] we become ourselves.” Well, maybe not completely, but to an important extent this would seem to be true.

Realizing all of this is, it seems to me, imperative in answering the tough challenge, “How would you have felt and reacted had your son approached you saying he was ‘really a girl,’ or ‘felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body?’” Almost certainly some questions would have immediately come to mind, such as: “Why is he saying this and what exactly does he mean?” and, importantly, “How has he come about believing this, or feeling this way? What has he seen? What has he heard? Where is this coming from?”

As parents, we would have almost instinctively, commonsensically known that this is not anything a three or four-year-old boy would believe or conclude on his own, completely divorced from those important contributing factors earlier mentioned. Now, beyond explaining anatomical reality in language he could understand, what we would have done specifically and proactively is admittedly difficult; however, I can say what we would not  have done. We would not  have loved him any less, nor would we have shamed, embarrassed, disgraced or  dishonored him as an invaluable person, finely and divinely formed by God.

Difficult issue with which to grapple? Yes, very likely so, but something else we would not have done, I can posit with a fair amount of certainty: Precisely because we so passionately love and deeply care for our children, we would not have put him in dress, jewelry and make-up, and sent him off to kindergarten with the attendant expectation that the school and surrounding community would capitulate and conform to his “self-identity” as “a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.” And herein healthy socialization overlaps and interlocks with the ongoing process of individuation, both of which necessarily entail fundamental parental responsibility.

Young children depend upon parents for more than basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. They rely upon us, too, in cognitive learning, emotional stability, moral guidance and direction, and in their formation of healthy self-identity, which is inextricably linked, as already indicated, with their identity-within-community. They go hand-in-hand (some would say unfortunately) along with all of the cultural norms of society. And where some of those norms may not be good; nevertheless, parents completely ignore such to the detriment of the child.

Consequently, part of my responsibility as their father – and the responsibility of their mother as well, of course – is not only the love, nurture, and affirmation of my children, but their spiritual, mental, physical health and welfare, too, which necessarily includes reasonable, social adaptation and integration; always bearing in mind that as protective, loving and nurturing parents, we have been and will continue to be fundamentally important in their continuing growth and maturation

Yes, and so we do this humbly and circumspectly, to the very best of our ability, as intended and ordained by God, who lovingly created them in his divine image and likeness; trusting the timeless promise that if we “set our children upon the right course, then when they are of age they will continue along that path,” the path described in an ancient Zuni prayer as “reaching on into the Dawn,” where there is everlasting fulfillment. May it be so. Amen.

What Do I Want For You, My Children?

Every father ought to have wishes for his children, so what wishes do I wish for you and what prayers do I pray? What do I want for you for life, my own flesh and blood, both invaluable blessings from God?

I want for you to see the infinite beauty of creation, from the stars shining brilliantly in the night sky to the tiniest of insects moving across delicate flowers opening to new life in the Spring of Life; from snow-topped mountains of grandeur to water brooks quietly meandering over rocks worn smooth over the ages of time in an otherwise fleeting world.

I want for you to smile at the sunrise, bathed in light, and feel the presence of God, and simply say, “thank you;” to whisper secrets to Luna and hear her answer in the pale moonlight in the promise of another day, unending and everlasting; to laugh in the rain, soaked in love, and dance in the moment.

I want for you to listen to the mystery of the universe and sweet murmurings of nature as the Lord of Life opens his Book of Wisdom; to be grateful guests in an enchanted Paradise that still resounds with echoes of Eden; to breathe the intoxicating aroma of hills and woodlands dressed in myriad dazzling colors.

I want for you lie down and sleep in tranquility, awake refreshed, free from fear, and live the day in gratitude with purpose; to feel the Presence of the Divine in every heartbeat and hear the tender call of the Spirit softly spoken in the soul; to pray in trembling love to Love, the Lover Everlasting and ever-present, though hidden from your eyes.

I want for you to be brave in the storms and the darkness of the whirlwind, when all around you is terror … peace; to remember the love of family and faithfulness of friends, the moments of goodness gone by and the undying hope for the best yet to come through the Best who died and rose again to give us Hope.

I want for you to walk hand in hand with the One who never tires nor sleeps, and worship in trust and adoration; to kneel at his feet and kiss in perfect surrender and pure joy; to see his face in the faces of all and to treat each and every one of them with reverence and the royal dignity that is their birthright.

I want for you to have open hands and giving hearts in genuine compassion, meekness and humility, living in pure simplicity and the freedom bequeathed by him who came to set us free; laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, never clinging to that which you cannot keep, never holding tightly what has no lasting value.

I want for you the cup of salvation and the bread of life, holy guardian angels round about you and the prayers of saints before the throne of God; your path made clear and strength for the journey, through every sigh of every sorrow as well as in health and happiness, through night and day, every step along the way.

And in the end, I want for you to look back upon your sojourn here and say, “All in all, it was good, very good. Thank you.” And then to turn your eyes toward heaven and say as you have heard your father say so many times, “And now, O Lord, into your hands … into your hands…”