my youngest years, Dad had always begun his prayers with “Heavenly Father…”,
and the phrase became just part of what you say when you pray. But around
the time I turned forty, I went through a change in the way I approached
my earthly father and my heavenly father. At that time, Dad’s prayer became
mine in a deeper way. I began praying “Heavenly Father,” not because I
had been taught to say it, but because it was true. God had become
my Heavenly Father, my Eternal Father, my True Father.
earthly Father, my Dad, had cared for me, trained me, raised me, and introduced
me to my Heavenly Father. I was filled with gratitude to him for all he
had done, and I struggled for a way to express it. Then I came up with
a plan: I would always call my earthly father “Dad” and my heavenly father
“Father.” This would be a tribute to Dad because I knew that the greatest
desire of his heart was for me to come to know God my True Father, and
this was acknowledgement that he had succeeded. I had come to know my Father,
my True Father, so Dad’s mission in my life was accomplished. He didn’t
have to be my Father any more. God would handle that. God was now the one
who was stronger than anyone or anything, who could handle every problem,
solve every dilemma, and care for me in every circumstance.
Dad would always have that second place of honor: he was my Dad, my only
Dad, who led me to my Father. He was the one, like John the Baptist, who
showed the way to my Heavenly Father, and then stepped aside. He allowed
himself to decrease so God could increase in my life. But his was the pre-eminent
position among those on earth: he was my Dad. There would never be another.
even God my Father could be my Dad.
for me, the greatest honor I could pay to my earthly father is to call
him my Dad. And one of the greatest joys of my life was to have the chance,
four days before he died, to tell him about this and to thank him for all
he had done, to tell him that he had succeeded in his mission, and that
he could go in peace.
last gesture to me as I left his room that day was a miniature salute with
his hand - it would have been accompanied by the words "see ya later, big
fella," if he could have spoken. That was his final salute to one of his
junior officers, to whom he was now entrusting the care of the ship. That
was the last time I saw him conscious, the last time I spoke to him, and
the final salute I received from him. He was passing the mantel of leadership
on, and entrusting me one final time to our Heavenly Father.
2011 Ted Kennedy III
||Ted Kennedy is a member of the Servants
of the Word, an ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the
Lord. He is steward and trainer for the Servants of the Word international
formation house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Ted is a vice president at
Service Brands International, a franchising company headquartered in Ann
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