Sunday, June 21, 2009

Muscle and Energy, Elephants and Fathers

Donald Miller is a best selling author who grew up fatherless in Houston, Texas.
Miller is hip, unpretentious, and serious about the importance of mentoring relationships for young boys. He is part of the Mentoring Project .

In To Own a Dragon, Miller writes about his experience, and how a documentary on orphaned elephants taught him the importance of mentoring:
“I learned a great deal about myself while watching a documentary a few years ago about elephants in a wildlife trust in Africa. There were twenty-five elephants, all of them orphans, and they had been brought to the trust twenty years before. They were becoming teenagers– in elephant years...

The narrator talked about the frustrations these few elephants were feeling because they had gone into early musth cycles... This phase produced aggressive and violent behavior, the elephant equivalent of sexual frustration.

The filmmakers followed these orphan elephants who were always on their own, staggering about the wildlife refuge, fueled by a pent-up aggression they couldn’t understand. They weren’t acting like elephants– they didn’t know what an elephant was supposed to do with all his energy, all his muscle.

To me, life was something you had to stumble through alone. It wasn’t something you enjoyed or conquered, it was something that happened to you, and you didn’t have a whole lot of say about the way it turned out. You just acted out your feelings and hoped you never got caught.

...Upon finding a mentor, the young elephant’s musth cycle ends. The older and younger begin to travel together, to find food together, to protect each other– the older one teaching the younger what elephant strength is for, and how to use it for the benefit of himself and the tribe.

Watching television that night, I wondered if humans aren’t like that, too. I began to wonder if we guys were designed to have a father, whose very presence would cause us to understand more accurately what our muscle is for, what we are supposed to do with our energy."

This is a rare picture of my Dad with his girls. It is rare because he was usually the one behind the camera. In his right hand Dad is holding a light meter. He had set up the shot and asked a fellow tourist to click the button. He used his muscle and energy to love his wife, provide for his children, and teach us girls what a real man looks like.

lookout mtn2

My father-in law was a quiet man. He used his energy and muscle to teach his son (and daughter) the importance of integrity and family.  He left this world all too soon.

3gensprad copy

Our Son#1 The Preacher uses his energy and muscle to love his wife and children (seen here with his firstborn son, Boo), mentor his high school students, and shepherd his congregation.


And My Dear Professor, following the example of his father, has used his muscle and energy in providing safety and love and wisdom for his three children and grandchildren.

bw pg gb and corduroy

I love you sweetheart!

All these men, these fathers and grandfathers, have used their muscle and energy for the good of their society and their families.  I think the world is in some small part a better place because of the choices they made.

For them, and for all those other unsung hero Dads out there, Thank you!

Happy Father's Day!