It's my dad's birthday, so I wanted to tell you all a bit about him, and a few of the things I've learned from him. So happy birthday, Dad!
When I was a kid I learned from my dad (among other things) an appreciation of art, nature, integrity and good thinking. I cherish my memories of going to art shows, galleries, and taking hikes. I appreciate my dad's encouragement of my questions, always trying to answer them and help me to think about the answers I might give.
One of the major things I appreciate about my dad is his integrity. He raised me a Christian Quaker, and I saw him and my mom working hard to intentionally live out their beliefs in social justice, equality, and love for all people.
My dad eventually decided he no longer believes in God/a supernatural (anything outside of or above the natural world), but he's kind of still a Quaker, although he sits with a Buddhist meditation group. I appreciate his integrity even in deciding he no longer has faith in a supernatural realm, because he wouldn't just lie to himself. It might have been easier for him to ignore his own doubts and to go on living as if he believed in God and Jesus and everything, to continue in his nice little church community, but he chose to have the courage and integrity to tell the truth about what he believed. I appreciate this courage and integrity immensely, and it has encouraged me to be honest about my own faith, doubts, and questions.
Even though my dad doesn't believe in a supernatural realm, he has come to recognize that spiritual stuff is still important. He knows his brain and whatever makes up his "self" needs meditation, needs community, needs to examine and analyze itself in order to change and grow into a better person. So my dad is more intentional about meditation than I am! I'm inspired by his tenacious practice of meditation, and by the amazing and beautiful changes I've seen in him over the years as he's practiced meditation and allowed himself to grow, confronting the things in himself that he thinks are negative and working to change those things.
I appreciate immensely the fact that in the last couple of years, we've learned to translate each other's language in our heads so we can truly hear each other and the truth and power of one another's experiences, even though we don't agree about their source. It's an amazing gift to be able to talk to my dad honestly about what I believe and what I'm working on in school or work (and he reads my blog), and for him to give me feedback and help me think more clearly about all those things. It's also an amazing gift to be able to listen to his spiritual journey and be challenged, inspired, and held accountable by it.
Thanks, Dad, for being true to who you are, and sharing yourself with me over the course of my life. You're a great dad, and I love you!