I’ve been contemplating the many “parents” that have shaped and formed me this weekend. I’m grateful for the parents who gave me birth and brought me up in the world. I’m especially grateful for my dad who sticks with me and always tells me he’s proud. He’s recently retired from more than 40 years of teaching. For a long time I resisted that family inheritance. Lots of of my great aunts and their children were also teachers and school administrators. But eventually I saw that it was my calling, too. And in the last 10 years I’ve embraced the role with joy.
I’m also thankful this father’s day for other mentors in the field of pastoral theology who have been intellectual and spiritual parents and also shaped and formed me as a teacher and scholar. Yesterday I found myself relating this story after the close of the Society for Pastoral Theology annual study conference . . . .
When I graduated from Southern Seminary in 1993 we were told it was the largest class ever to graduate. Our president Roy Honeycutt stood and announced that he, too, was in our graduating class. He had been dismissed as president and replaced. He was departing with us. It was a powerful day culminating three and a half years of conflict for me. I was so relieved to be graduating when I did. But the greatest blessing of the day was as the long line of students filed from Norton Hall to the chapel. Outside in his regalia on that muggy May day stood Wayne Oates greeting, hugging, and blessing each one of us as we made our way to the ceremony. It was the greatest gift of that day. And he is one of the spiritual and intellectual parents for whom I am deeply grateful today.
To all the dads who read this, thanks and bless you for the care you give!