Fridays are my Sabbath Day. I am off and unless there is a serious emergency, the day is mine. Of course this time of year that gets difficult and I have been terrible at self care until yesterday. I was a total lump on a log until I went over to the school to volunteer in my daughter's kindergarten class. That may seem like work to some but I think it is one of the best Sabbath practices. I get to be in the school, the class, and with L. Of course when I go there, a public school, I ditch as much of the pastor role as I possibly can. However my brain doesn't stop thinking in pastoral mode most of the time.
I sat down at the table and started the task at hand, decorating bags for gifts the students made for their parents. So the teacher wrote down a few things they might want to write on the bag and off we went. She also explained some may say I only live with my mom or dad. Just tell them to write mom or dad then. It took approximately four minutes with the first round of students before I saw a sad little face that said to me, "I don't have a dad, just a mom". Now I don't know this little one's story and it is not my place to ask. A million things ran through my head. As the other students talked about how they have a mom and a dad. My heart sinking because my dad wasn't around much because he was sick and I can remember how much those moments can hurt. What can I say, what can I say, I can't ignore those sad eyes. Earlier this week we got an email about a father daughter dance that also made my heart break a little. So we can say I am a little sensitive in this area. As a pastor, (other pastors does this happen to you?) I wanted to respond with compassion. I didn't just want to pretend like they didn't say it.
I impulsively said the thing that made the most sense, "I don't have a dad either, just a mom." There was a smile and we moved on. The reasons me and this little one don't have a dad may be completely different, mine died, I have no idea what is up with theirs. Luckily there were no more questions about my dad because telling them he died might be awful for an age group where death is hard to understand. We could argue that's all ages I suppose.
It is my hope that being an adult without a dad normalized it for this little friend at least for now. My little friend, chances of you ever reading this are very slim, in a year's time you will likely forget L's mom coming to school. If I could tell you anything though, I would tell you I know not having your dad around well just plain sucks, a lot. I know people will say things that hurt. I hope you know for whatever reason your dad isn't around it is not your fault. My friend, you are going to be OK.
I totally get that the kid is probably long past this moment and that a lot of what I wrote here is more about me than this kiddo. I just know it is a day later and still running around inside my head.
Today I am grateful that I found some words to acknowledge a powerful statement from a small voice. I hope that they helped. May we each see every opportunity to show compassion and love.