Spiritual leaders answer on fatherhood

Editor’s note: Every Friday a question is printed at the end of this column inviting a response. If you are a religious leader on Kaua‘i please send in your thoughts or suggestions for future topics. Next week’s subject is on dreams. The suggested topic at the end of the column is for the following week.

by Pam Woolway – The Garden Island

Jasmine Schaeffer

Minister, Unity of Kaua‘i

At Unity, we teach that God is in all, and prayers often begin with ‘Mother, Father, God’. Accepting that idea of balance, of honor to both Father and Mother, can take time — especially if our upbringings included the idea of God as Father only, and fathers in general were to be honored and respected but not necessarily loved.

Loving our fathers, whatever form they take, occasionally may involve peeling away layers of resistance and stepping into forgiveness in order to find the love that is always within us all.

For many of us, our fathers were integral in our upbringings. We had opportunities to see them as caretakers, as being interested parties in our growth. For those of us who did not have the benefit of this, making peace with the concept of ‘father’ can be more work. Making that peace, however, is key to finding balance in our God concept. ‘Father’ is an aspect of God consciousness, and honor of that assists us in feeling comfortable with branches of spirituality that don’t necessarily mirror our own.

In order to begin to grow comfortable with our image of fathers if our own experience is minimal or unpleasant, it helps to begin by entering into a peaceful state, perhaps using deep breathing or walking, and start to define our ideal fathers, both in human and Spirit form. Keep those images close, define them as well as possible, and then write them down. Spend some time consciously honoring the concept of fatherhood in all of its forms and resistance to releasing our previously held thoughts begins to fade.

The world is full of wonderful fathers — nurturing, comforting parents who have assisted in making us the wonderful beings that we are. I watched a rooster this morning tending a bunch of fluffy newborn chicks — no mother in sight. When we look beyond our preconceptions, and forgive what we think may have gone wrong, miracles happen.

John Snyder

Member of North Shore

Christian Church

Twenty-seven years ago when my first child was born, I was struck with an overwhelming love for this tiny, wet, wrinkled, screaming human. I was surprised by the love I felt and I realized it was a gift from God. Through the years at each critical situation, I’ve learned to ask, “What would my Father, God do?”

Here are some guidelines:

• He is good and only has our best interests at heart. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

• Sometimes it’s painful and costly to do the best thing for your children. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

• I don’t come close to doing it perfectly, but if every once in a while I can give a glimmer of a reflection of the Father heart of God, I’m totally stoked. “My life has been a small (sic) attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.” Dan Fogleberg

Spiritual Assembly of the Baha‘i of Koloa

The supreme body of the Bahá‘i Faith, the Universal House of Justice states, “…Although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá’u’lláh, prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith, has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood.”

Bahá’u’lláh further exhorts fathers to impart both physical and spiritual knowledge. “Every father must educate his children, both boys and girls, in sciences and morals, crafts and professions.” He also counsels that a wise father also plays with his children and bestows upon them an abundance of love.

Though the biological father is important, the Bahá‘i faith believes that, “The spiritual father is greater than the physical one, for the latter bestoweth but this world’s life, whereas the former endoweth his child with life everlasting.”

The ideal situation provides children with both mother and father in a united, loving, and harmonious family. Therefore, “ … the unity of your family should take priority over any other consideration. Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family.”

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