Pictures tell stories, both told and untold.
This photo tells thousands.
There are years I go without looking into its glory, but it always whispers back for my return. At times it is just too painful to peer into. Though nearly 30 years have passed since it was taken, there is still something I need here.
Take a minute to gaze into it. What do you see on our faces? What is evoked in you?
I long to believe the laughter on our faces was real.
That my father loved me. That he loves me still.
This picture calls me to come and look deeply into our faces to find the father that I never knew, and continue to father the orphaned places inside.
I get lost in my beautiful longing when I allow this image to minister to my brokenness.
Of what could have been, what should have been, what was not, what never will be.
Did this picture capture the pinnacle of my father and I’s relationship? Was this the only moment father and son would truly ever be father and son, playing on the beach together in Clearwater, FL?
I keep contemplating what kind of hope is here.
Continuing to search for the same joy in my present life that was on that little boy’s face. He was safe in his father’s arms, open to laughter, free to play.
I continue to search for that lost little boy inside the man that I am. I am still looking to be fathered.
I suppose somewhere in this picture I will discover answers.
Answers to the secrets of my past, answers to my current state of discouragement, and a peace about what is to come.
I keep dreaming that somehow someway if I look deep enough in our faces, 6-year-old Andrew will hear my present-day voice whispering…
“Everything is going to be okay, Andrew. Though all hell is about to break loose in your life, and everything you have will be lost, you will make it.” “You will become a kind, powerful, and wise man, Andrew, never give up”. “Andrew, you do not have to prove anything”. “You are enough”. “You are loved”. “I am so proud of you”.
30 years later I still long to hear these affirming words. I am still trying to father myself, still grasping for father’s everywhere to heal something that no one else can. I search for my lost father to father me and constantly wrestling with my unmet misplaced desires. Having hope mock my desperate attempts for something, anything.
So today I rest in the truth of my goodness. Today I replace my father’s face in the picture with my own.
My 35-year-old man will hold tightly to my funny, feisty 6-year-old self with pride and glee. Fathering the fragments that still remain so young, nursing the broken pieces and having the patience to watch them heal. Kissing my forehead softly telling grand stories of all the adventures had and the many yet to come.
Through laughter and tears, redemption appears…