Happy happy birthday to you, my sweet dad. Adam and I went to Mass this morning in Tampa, and mom went to Mass at home. We go because we are your family, your beloved wife and children. We are yours and we feel the most yours and the most grateful to be yours and the most grateful for the time we had with you when we are in the presence of the One who gave us each other. For who is the Author of our family besides the Author of life? He gives us the gift of families to invite us into His own family, that we would not be just content with the love found there, or feel abandoned by the lack of, but we would be moved to His own. A family we were made for in a home where a place has been prepared for us.
The Gospel message from Matthew this morning spoke of the place of our hearts. “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” [Matthew 6:21]. The priest encouraged us to pray a daily retreat with this verse. To pick something we do frequently throughout the day, whether that be drink a cup of coffee, eat a meal, wash your hands, pick up your phone, etc. Something you do regularly and reflect on where your treasure is. Ask yourself with this frequent move because in a certain sense, you can’t lie to yourself. What we do often tells us quite a bit about what we are about as a person. And what we are about is probably where our treasure is and thus where our heart is. “The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God” [CCC 368].
But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be their people. [Jeremiah 31:33]
Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.[St. Augustine]
We are restless in the depths of our being until we let the depths of our beings belong to their Maker. The One who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. The law He places within us is love and mercy itself. How do we know? Because He sent His Son to show us. Jesus shows us the will of the Father perfectly. A Father who unconditionally longs for all His children to find rest in Him.
Adam, mom and I went to Mass this morning, dad, to honor you. To let you know and remind ourselves that we belong to you. That we are so loved by you. And so loved by the Father Who gave us each other. We want our treasure and our hearts to belong to Him.
Adam and I have also been listening to all your favorite jams. Eric Clapton. Shania Twain. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. U2. JAMS. I don’t know about Adam, but I didn’t always find joy in listening to your favorite songs. But now, more so than not, they sing a sweet melody of your love. We drove out to Orlando today to do a little coffee tour, so we had plenty of time to soak in the beautiful reminders. Which brings me to the gift we decided on for you today. Tattoos.
I know exactly what face you are making right now, so just hang on and let me explain. I’ve told you before that when I was young and you were sick, I rejected being your daughter. I didn’t want to be. But thanks be to God, He set me right in college. Before you died, I started the journey I am still on today, learning to be your daughter again and loving who I am as your daughter. After you died, mom would always refer to you as “daddy” when she was with me. It infuriated me. I never called you that. But I was wrong. On both accounts.
One- I thought then I was angry at her. The truth is I was angry with myself. I was angry that the thought of referring to you as “daddy” was so childish and foreign to me. That I had “grown up” and left behind this kind of childlike intimacy in our relationship.
Two- I did call you daddy when I was very young. Big daddy woo woo. To be exact.
So the truth is I want to be my big daddy woo woo’s little girl again. And what does this have to do with tattoos? Think what you will about tattoos themselves, but I believe they have value when they have meaning.
He (Jesus) advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass him; he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” [Mark 14:36]
For those who are led by the spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. [Romans 8:14-17]
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. [Galatians 4:4-7]
Adam and I got Abba tattooed on our wrists. In the note from my NAB Catholic Bible on the passage from the Gospel of Mark, it says “Abba, Father” is an Aramaic term, “Jesus’ special way of addressing God with filial intimacy.”
So this is our special way of honoring our Abba and reminding ourselves filial intimacy with you continues on in our lives, even without you physically present with us. And in reminding ourselves of you and our sonship and daughtership to you, we primarily and simultaneously, not secondly, remind ourselves of the gift Jesus Christ has given us and the longing our One Father has for us. Our Father desires us in His family and offers adoption to be with Him again through His Son. So we can cry out with Him, Abba, Father!
Happy Birthday Big Daddy Woo Woo, we love you!
Your little missy,