An old professor was fond of teasing his students with what he described as the perfect question for a test: “Describe the universe and give two examples.” A word like “universe” is so big that it includes everything you can imagine. Two examples? That sounds impossible. 

Many of the words we use each day are like that—commonplace terms for impossibly complicated things: “Major League Baseball,” “World Class,” “Wisdom.”

There are two additional words that also meet that classification and they are “Mother” and “Father.” We celebrated Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, and now it’s time for Father’s Day. How do you describe what those words really mean—and what we are trying to accomplish by honoring our fathers in a single, celebratory day?

Maybe Father’s Day is just one way of describing the incredibly complex system of talents, skills, understanding, connecting with others and strategy that is required for success in life—and that many of us learned from the one we call Dad, Pops, Papa, Daddy, or Father. Like the words Major League Baseball, having someone to call Dad—or who calls you Dad—is shorthand for the person who challenges you to aim for the highest possible goals and aspirations, constantly affirming that you can do the things you set out to do.  And how can one word encompass all of the wisdom that a father imparts to his children? (Or that a father accumulates from his children?) How can all of that be captured in a single day each year called Father’s Day?

It can’t. Maybe that is why we buy a lot of silly greeting cards, stammer out woefully inadequate statements of affection, and generally act as if we don’t know quite what to do or say on days like this? It’s just too complicated for words. Describing their impact requires a life of experiences and words. My life has been incredibly blessed to have a person I can call father.  In short I love him greatly!! 

Happy Father’s Day!