A Father's Elegy
I sat in the den of a home in Cockeysville MD, wrestling with the Sunday Times' acrostic puzzle. It wasn't yielding, when soothing melodies wafted my way. I thought at first it was a CD. Then it dawned on me that it was our daughter playing the harp, the Salvi harp imported from Genoa, Italy, in December 1973, a present and an encouragement to our second child at the tender age of eleven.
A smile overtook my reverie. Sweet thoughts filled my head. Back to that summer in Vermont, driving along the cutoff to Lake Fairlee, when it came to me, a small epiphany, that, maybe, our middle child, the one with the flaxen hair and the long fingers, maybe, she should be encouraged to take as her musical instrument one that very few have picked. I knew a harp teacher, a friend from my church involvements, the dentist's wife, Joyce Mouradian (talk about flaxen haired angels!).
Thirty plus years later Dad hears the resonant fulfillment of his dream for his daughter. Simply wonderful.
I began some extrapolations from that sweet reverie. Did my Mom, the immigrant from Northern Ireland at eleven years of age, who never went to school in this country for fear the authorities would discover she was here illegally, the woman who determined that any child of hers would go to college and, she prayed, become a minister, did she react as I did to harp music when she first heard me lead public prayer from the pulpit? Most assuredly!
In this age for which Joseph Campbell has sounded the theme, "Follow your bliss"; in this time of unbounded individualism in tune with Frank Sinatra's song , "My Way"; when Regis finds new fame by asking, "Who wants to be a millionaire?"; I may appear to be terribly out of sync with the moment, by suggesting that we might more profitably and blessedly apply ourselves to being dream-fulfillers... of others' dreams, that is!
Forget the Dad and Mom cited above. Think of the Dad (and some would add Mom) Above. About whom it was reported, more or less, that there was raucous joy in heaven when a single sinner repented. Talk about fulfilling Another's dreams for them. Peace on earth, perhaps, and not just in the song angels sing at Christmas. Considering the poor, and considering them generously. Hungering and thirsting for justice. Being merciful. Speaking the truth in love. Sheltering children, including those who aren't yours. Wow, wouldn't the Old Man/Woman puzzling away at the acrostic of human affairs be delighted?!
Ah, but I'm preaching, which may please my mother but makes me a bore to everyone else.
Still, the message is a good one. That you and I can be the "10" that fills in the straight in our mentor's poker hand. That you and I can be harmony to the melody a friend is singing. That you and I can be the answer to a stranger's prayer a world away. That you and I can write a happy ending to a family's otherwise sad story. That... well, you get the picture... that we can each of us be the dream fulfillment for the other's impossible dream.
Because as much as we celebrate individual initiative and responsibility, it behooves us to remember that in this great enterprise of life we are all in it together. I am counting on you. You can count on me.