I was always a little bit jealous that I had to share my dad’s birthday, and sometimes, like today, Father’s Day as well. It just didn’t seem fair that I couldn’t have my own special day, although, looking back now, I always got the better end of the deal. After all, the cake was usually pink and covered in icing roses instead of my dad’s preferred apple pie. And now, it doesn’t quite feel right to be apart today. Especially for a big day like 60! I’m looking forward to celebrating together in just over a month, when I go home. Looking back over the years, although the amount of years I have to look back over pales in comparison to my dad’s, we have both changed a lot. I, of course, am now potty trained and can ride a bike. My dad has a few more gray hairs and a new way of understanding the world.
I would visit my dad’s shop as a child, filled with the smell of fresh lumber and wood shavings. I am not a handy person. I don’t understand how to put things together. But this I do know. Sometimes, in order to build the best something, it is necessary to take it apart first. Questions must be asked. Do these pieces really fit together? Is there a way to change the design? Why is it that if you pull out that little tiny green block from the corner, the whole thing slowly falls apart? All the pieces may need to be examined carefully, held, weighed and mulled over. This is hard work. Questioning may not appear to make a lot of sense a lot of times, but for niggling thoughts about that little green piece in the corner.
As a carpenter, my dad has taken a lot of things apart in his life and then put them back together. He always jokes, probably more seriously than we think, that he should have just burnt our childhood home to the ground, rather than go through the painstakingly slow work of rebuilding from scraps.
When I was growing up, we left the Yukon for the Prairies. For six years, deconstruction took root as my dad wrestled with new ideas and life-constructions in his theological studying. He is turning 60 today (balloons and confetti!!!) and the journey continues. I have seen my dad look at, touch and slowly pull out that little green piece. And it has not always been easy, but I am proud of the changes that I have seen take place. I love that, following the example of my dad, I still have time to grow and change.
Only out of deconstruction is reconstruction born. I think my dad has learned that the world is not stable and to think that it is exactly as it appears is to deceive oneself. Things are generally more complicated than they appear and only when that complexity is recognized, can reconstruction take place.
We reconstruct the world the way we want it to be, out the rubble of the old reality lying around us. My dad’s world is based on justice and equality for all, a new understanding of theology and the words of Jesus. Teaching is also a work of deconstruction and reconstruction. I am so glad that my dad has discovered this gift, a gift that is also carpentry, but works with minds and hearts, not simply timber and nails.
I may not have the easy ability to fix broken things. I may not have learnt how to put boards together into something functional, but I have learnt how to ask questions and how to take things apart. And, slowly yet surely, we are working together to put things back together, to make the world a more beautiful place. I am honoured to share this day, and this work, with my dad.