Originally, this was to be the blog for Advent 4, but prepping for Christmas Eve got in the way. Then it was going to be Christmastide, but a much needed vacation set it aside. Then Epiphany , but...you get the point. So it now serves as the first submission for 2019.
Several weeks after my father had gotten sick, I returned to the hospital after taking mom home to tell him good night.
"I love you Dad"
"I love you Bill" His legendary deep voice still clear though weakened.
The fact that those words came out so naturally for both of us was the product of time, humility, forgiveness, and the mystery of how grace and wisdom together clarify our vision. Though I can still remember in my 20's when we started saying it on a regular basis how we nearly beat each other to death as we hugged to affirm our mutual love while trying to perserve our alpha and masculine status.
"You're a good man Marvin Borror" came out of my mouth like a thought that needed to be made flesh.
"I know" he replied, "but we probably shouldn't be telling people that." We both laughed with abandon. He had a great sense of humor, even to the end
Marvin K. Borror Jr. was a good man-honest as the day was long; would cheat himself rather than take advantage of anyone. Maddeningly cautious-if two bungie cords would do the job-he would use eight and twenty feet of rope. Heaven and earth may pass away, but a load packed by Marvin Borror would not be moved.
My Dad would have been a great lawyer or engineer. Though he was very bright with a legendary memory, he was neither given the option of a college education, nor even the dream of its possibility He worked from the time he was a child to only a few months before his death. There were times as boy, he used money from his paper route to keep the electricity on in his home. His dreams of self improvement were thwarted by a West Virginia economy that was capricious at best-there would be six months of overtime followed by lay-offs. In spite of those constant setbacks as a young man, my dad never collected an unemployment check, even if it meant pumping gas or painting water towers (and he did not like neither heights nor painting). Stability would not come until he found a job that brought us to Pennsylvania. A few year later he would become the first zoning officer for Greene Township, where he worked for parts of five decades. I was told by township official that there was a time when probably no one in the state knew more about zoning than my father.
He was only twenty-three years old when I was born and one of my older cousins recently recounted to me how excited and proud he was that day. Dad was a dutiful father, son, son-in-law,nephew and brother. He was a loyal friend and generous to family and friends and strangers in need. He was an amazing grandfather to my sons, grandchildren, and nephew.
But most of all he was the husband of Georgia Shirley Borror. They were best friends, lovers, constant companions and life partners in the full sense. He was good man who became a better man because he both was loved by and loved my mother. Perhaps the hardest thing about his death for me is being present to his palpable absence in the life and grief of my mother.
My dad's spiritual life was enigmatic. He was not baptized until he was in his late 30's and mostly it seemed because it was a requirement for church membership. He did not really talk much about God and was turned off by overly emotional or dogmatic expressions of faith. I was just beginning to serve my first church, when he commented about a co-worker who he said had become a religious fanatic. When I asked him what he meant, he replied that he spent all his time at church and talked about God constantly. When I reminded him that as a minister, that's what I did, he replied without missing a beat.
"It's different. They pay you to do it."
But I knew he was proud of my work, even though he did not always understand it. He seemed to like to come hear me preach and would always tell me I did a good job. Now, I am sure that was a function of a father supporting his son, but I would occasionally glance at him during the sermon laughing or grimacing-so I knew he was listening.
Yet, I know my dad believed. He “woke up,” from his stroke when my childhood pastor, an amazing Christian who had always been there for my family, and I were praying for him. It was as if something in Ron's voice and prayer brought him back. The explosion of emotion and love that came from Dad at that moment literally took my breath away. My father had told me he loved me before, but never like that.
A few days later as I sat with my father, I realized that I had been in the exact same hospital 36 year earlier to the day watching my first son come into the world. And though I was tempted to call it a circle, I think it is closer to a linear line moving towards the “weight of glory.” I was reminded of those overwhelming first moments when you hold your child for the first time. There is so much wonder and love that you feel like you are going burst at the seams…. “heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain.…”
It was like what I had felt from dad at his "awakening." With all the barriers down- the ones from the weariness of life and/ or the ones we construct-I felt the full force of what a Father feels for His child-how Dad loved me; a glimpse of the Divine love of eternity. The love that Dad now sees face to face.
If God wishes to reveal the love that he harbors for the world, this love has to be something that the world can recognize, in spite of, or in fact in, its being wholly other.