I’ve started praying the Lord’s Prayer throughout the day. Some times I make it through the prayer, and sometimes I don’t. It’s more interesting when I don’t: I find myself thinking about what isolated portions of the prayer mean.
Today, I got through the first two words before the thoughts started rushing. “Our father” — such a simple concept, and yet so foreign for some. A few hours after my interrupted prayer, I began reading one student’s journal. This child, from a patchwork family that has led to iffy social skills and a severe lack of self-confidence, did more for me in a few words than I probably have done for her all year, making me feel both elated and guilty.
The student wrote about her biological father, expressing disbelief that one could have a child with someone and “end up not liking them.” There’s a glimmer of hope there: awareness might help her avoid a similar situation. The odds are against her, especially given the example she’s been given, as poignantly show in the following sentence: “One day I do believe that he will come around more because my friends get to see their daddy but I don’t. It’s just not right.”
Here is a whole group of adolescents living without their fathers, with one on the fringe intensely jealous of those who merely get to see their fathers. No mention of living with them — merely getting to see them.
Pater noster, qui es in caelis
The atheist in me would cry out, “We don’t need him in heaven; we need him here on earth.” Not an insightful comment, nor a particularly original one: the absent God — the hidden God — is a common motif in Judaism and Christianity. Yet the hidden father is a motif all too common in our contemporary society, and that absence is more readily noticeable.
It’s easy to see why Freud made the comparison he did — who wouldn’t want a perfect father? These children: they’re not looking for perfect, just present.