Father’s Day (or should it be Fathers’ Day?) didn’t exist on this side of the Atlantic when I was a child, so I was spared the agony of trying to find a present or card which would express in hideous tie or stumbling verse what both my father and I would have been far too British to put into words. (He was about 84 before he was able to sign a letter or card with anything more effusive than ‘Best wishes’ . . .) That doesn’t mean that I didn’t know my father loved me, or that I didn’t love him: we just didn’t say it in words until the day we were given the grace to do so.
‘Grace’ is a beautiful word, isn’t it, with its simultaneous echoes of delight and gratitude? I love the way Julian of Norwich refers constantly to ‘Our gracious Lord’ and his ‘gracious love’ for us. She reminds us that if we want to know what the Father’s love for us looks like, we should spend a moment or two before a crucifix. There we see the Word made flesh, pinned to the Cross by love rather than nails, arms held open everlastingly to embrace us. All he asks is an answering, ‘I love you.’
I love you: three small words for Father’s Day. Say them to your earthly father if you have one, and to your heavenly Father also.