Astounded that anyone other than close friends and family knew about this particular blog, and even more surprised that someone might be interested in my opinion, I gave it considered thought for about a nanosecond before responding. In due time, an e-copy of the book arrived in the e-mail and I sat down to read the reflections of a father and daughter on their shared Catholic faith.
I've always believed that strong women often--usually--have strong fathers to thank for their confidence. I was blessed to have a father who, though completely confounded by the fact that he'd somehow sired a reclusive scientist, never once let me think that I couldn't do anything I set my mind to. Well, maybe once, an event that involved a choir and was duly seconded some twenty years later when my daughter would cover her ears to my lullabies and plead "Don't sing!"
Dad was great at building up my confidence, but not so great at conversation. In fact, talk in our house was at a premium. We simply did not discuss things. My parents imparted knowledge and answered questions in matter of fact ways, but deep spiritual conversations, or reflections on how life was or should have been were just not a part of my upbringing. Even so, I was taught a great deal about life and about God and about faith without words. I learned about love as a verb, the action of the will, long before I ever encountered it as a noun and emotion. I never doubted my father's love for me, but I rarely heard him say so. And as I made my circuitous journey to the Catholic faith, which was completed long after his death, we never discussed my theological and ecclesial way-stations. I knew he thought them peculiar, and I knew it mattered not in the least as far as his love for me was concerned.
My own history is what makes this little volume so compelling to me. Being admitted to the two sides of an loving father-daughter relationship as they explore the meaning of faith in action is both precious and inspiring. Deacon Steven Lumbert and his daughter, Karina Lumbert Fabian have made a book of spiritual exercises out of the everyday things that make up life, trading perspectives and bringing each story home with scripture, the catechism and a "life lesson." They succeed in putting into words the kind of faith I absorbed in silence from my own father. The anecdotes are short, mostly ordinary and very effective, bringing God home to the everyday moments that populate our lives. After all, if we cannot find God in the everyday, we will not find Him at all.
The biggest change in my life since conversion is the increasing awareness I have of God as I go through my day. Deacon Lumber and Karina make the point that God is relevant to every moment of our lives with grace, charm and a great deal of affection. It's a book I wish I could have written with my own dad, impossible as that would have been. And because of that, this book is that much more special. It's one that will find its way on to my Christmas lists and into the hands of my friends.
Most of all, it reminds me how important fathers, earthly and Heavenly, are in our spiritual journeys. In my life, it is the relationship with my dad that is very rhythm of my days as I speak to the Father who sustains me even though Robert Alfred Harty himself has passed from my arms into His.
I miss you Dad. Thanks.