In June we celebrate Father’s Day: Honoring their commitments on behalf of children.
As those who protect, nurture, teach, care, and provide for their children, Father’s Day expresses our appreciation for their outsized roles in our lives. Honoring fathers goes back to ancient times, yet its American expression starts in 1910. That year Sonora Smart Dodd began to make Father’s Day a national holiday, which it became in 1972.
This holiday is currently associated with cards, electronic gifts, ties, and power tools, but its origins are more prosaic. Dodd created this holiday because of her father’s selfless care raising her and five brothers after their mother’s death. His courage and love as a single parent inspired Dodd’s campaign originating in Spokane, WA. Hearing a Mother’s Day message in church spurred her to wonder how to honor her father and other fathers, too.
Her father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran who was married and widowed twice. His second wife died in childbirth. He raised their children on his own rather than send them to relatives to rear, customary among widowers then. Smart kept his family intact despite the difficulties, modeling unconditional love despite his own pain and grief.
On the night of his wife’s funeral his youngest child ran into the night, distraught by loss. William pursued him, brought him inside by the fire, and sang and rocked him to sleep. That was the moment for Sonora that he became father and mother to all his children. His unusual dedication, strength, caring, and protection shaped her future.
On Father’s Day, let us recall Smart’s example. How do we keep relationships intact despite losses? Where can we bring strength and dedication to our home and work? What unusual caring and courage can we bring to shape our community’s future?
Rev Sybrant has a Masters in Divinity, Social Work, and a Doctor of Ministry. For more information, visit us at 15050 SW Weir Road www.murrayhills.org | 503-524-5230