I never thought I would make a good father, far less a good husband, but now, 17 years later I think I might be on to something.
My children have taught me what it means to be a father; my wife has taught me what it means to be a husband; and courtesy of the three of them, I believe I may have found the formula for sainthood.
Through them, I have learnt to be patient with myself and with them. I have learnt how to love each one in their uniqueness, and collectively as family. I have learnt generosity and what it means to give until it hurts. I have learnt that forgiven wives forgive easier, and that loved children love more.
My father was not Catholic and to the best of my recollection, would have found himself inside a church on four occasions: at his marriage, the marriage of my two sisters, and at his death.
And yet, a man imbued with more Christian morals and values I have not met. And though there were times when I would angrily vow that I would never be like him, today, thankfully, I am my father’s child.
Fatherhood for me, then, has been a raucous and often riotous mixture of triumphs and failures, of intense personal pain and truly waiting in joyful hope for the mustard seed of faith with which I began this journey, to mushroom and blossom into something really special.
Do I try to pattern myself according to the Fatherhood of God, and the example of St Joseph as a husband? I most certainly do. Do I always succeed? Resoundingly ‘No’.
There have been countless times when I felt like giving up, but then I looked upon them as they slept and knew that I couldn’t. In moments like those, I remember that even though the farmer sows his seeds in good faith, he too must wait, unaware of what takes place below the ground, yet trusting that the Lord of the harvest will reward his efforts.
In those moments too, I am comforted by the fact that even before Zacchaeus realised his physical challenge of being unable to see Jesus, the sycamore tree had been planted for him. My God has not failed me yet.
Today, I pray for all fathers, that we who have been entrusted the roles of teacher, spiritual guide and provider, among others, will be given the strength, grace and humility required for this journey of faith.
I thank God for our wives and the mothers of our children who have witnessed and at times suffered through our growing pains. But most of all today I thank God for our children who, more than anyone else, have transformed us from boys into men, from selfish individuals into men of faith and hope.
I pray that the trust they have invested in us be never shattered, and they too will one day find shade and rest under the branches of trees we planted.
This guest editorial for Father’s Day is by Neil Parsanlal. Neil and his wife Liza worship in Arima and are parents of two teenagers, Zoe Marie and Zachary.