In Case of Rain: Father Earth, 1

Back in the days when there was such a thing as "calling collect," in this country, Father’s Day was the day that more collect calls were made than any other day. We'd call Mom on Mother’s Day and call Dad on Father’s day – but we’re more likely to let dad foot the bill.

When you got your learner’s permit, was it your Dad who took you out for the driving lessons? And did he hop in the back seat, saying, “ah, now it’s my turn to kick the back of the seat while you’re trying to drive”?

We are believers is equality, and we don’t want to pander to stereotypes of male incompetence. We know there are a lot of new fathers who are as adept at changing a diaper as any mother. We also know the reality that some new fathers know a lot more about baseball than about diapers. For them, here’s how you do it:
  • Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat.
  • Then, fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound.
  • Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together.
  • Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.
In our culture, the father is a figure regarded with some ambivalence and tension. There is often something unresolved there – something still in need of working out. Fathers sometimes, somehow, go wrong, and, speaking as one, we do so many different ways. A poem by Dick Laurie was quoted in the movie “Smoke Signals” asks:
"How do we forgive our fathers?
Maybe in a dream.
Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often, or forever, when we were little?
Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all?
Do we forgive our fathers for marrying, or not marrying, our mothers?
Or divorcing, or not divorcing, our mothers?
And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing, or leaning?
For shutting doors or speaking through walls?
For never speaking, or never being silent?
Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs?
Or in their deaths, saying it to them or not saying it.
If we forgive our fathers, what is left?”
On Father's Day we recognize and celebrate today: Fathers. Father's Day is also the final Sunday of spring, so we're highlighting the last of the sources of the living tradition we share:
“Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.”
At the intersection of Earth-centered traditions and Fathers, would be the figure, "Father Earth."

Of course, the more common association is Mother Earth and Father Sky. In culture after culture, around the globe and through the eons, we find the idea that the Earth is like a mother and the sky is like a father. This way of dividing up the earth and sky has a natural logic to it: The Earth gives birth. The sky rains down, inseminating Earth, allowing her to give birth.

Interestingly, ancient Egypt was a rare exception to the general association of Earth with mother and sky with father. The ancient Egyptians tended toward Father images and gods for the Earth and Mother images and goddesses for the sky. This is probably because the livelihood of the Egyptians depended on the annual flooding of the Nile River. For them, the waters that made fertility possible came up from the Earth – and the hot sky incubated life as a mother.

So the concept of Father Earth is not entirely without precedent. In this series on Fathers, The Liberal Pulpit will invite consideration of Father Earth -- the ways that fathers, father figures, and mentors give us grounding.

* * *
This is part 2 of 5 of "Father Earth."
Next: Father Earth 2: Coach
Previous: A Prayer for the Fathers
Photo by Mondocain, http://www.vloggerheads.com/profiles/blogs/father-earth

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