Saturday, December 10, 2005

Can We Talk?

There is a lovely young couple in our church with two young daughters. The oldest child, Anna is four or five years old now. Anna (note to RLP readers - yes, that Anna) speaks German and her younger sister is learning to speak German as well. They speak English too, but their Mom is fluent in German and their Dad speaks the language well too. Whenever their mother is speaking to them - in private - she makes a habit to speak German and the kids have simply picked up the language. What a wonderful gift these young parents are bestowing upon their kids.

This afternoon, Amy and Lee drove to Seguin...a town 30 or 40 miles away. I've mentioned before that Seguin is home to the world's largest pecan...well really a pecan shaped chunk of concrete, but I suppose the World's Largest Pecan title is not something a lot of communities are wrestling Seguin has clear unchallenged bragging rights.

Despite the pecan attraction, Amy and Lee's mission focused on another task...fetching Lee's husband Jose. While Lee and her kids have been in San Antonio, Jose chose to find separate living Seguin. Who knows...maybe the pecan was a factor.

Jose seems nice enough...very polite...although I haven't been able to have a conversation of any depth with him. Jose doesn't speak English.
Lee speaks Spanish so she translates almost every conversation for him.

For the record, it would be easy to assume Lee and her kids are African-American, but they are not. Jose is from El Salvador...Lee's roots are primarily Cuban. Their kids were all born and raised in New Orleans. The kids don't speak Spanish...not a lick. Let me reiterate that - Jose has three children (from this marriage) with whom he does not share a common language. He doesn't speak to them often and for any meaningful conversation they literally need a translator.

The kids have never known any other way. Their dad has always been someone with whom they really couldn't talk with directly. He hasn't ever learned to speak the language of his children nor to teach them his native tongue.

That barrier is not the lone reason for the estrangement Jose has with his children but it's certainly a contributing factor. A huge one as far as I'm concerned. I must admit Jose's odd relationship with his kids and their obvious apathy toward him has gnawed at my thoughts all day.

What it would be like to have children but be unable, or worse yet unwilling, to work to find a way to share yourself with them...share your wisdom...your worries...your love.

Jose and Lee have three children and his relationship is essentially the same with all three. It's virtually non-existent...and it's sad.

But as I said...I don't really know Jose.
Maybe he wishes it were different.

Maybe he wishes he had reached out to his kids from the moment they were put on this earth. Maybe he regrets that he didn't find simple ways to convey his thoughts. Simple ways - that hurtled all language barriers - to let them know he desired a deep and abiding relationship with them...above all things.

Fathers are so important.

Their lessons can shape our lives so profoundly.

Jose is a religious man...I don't see how he has overlooked this concept.

I do see one thing - how very grateful I am that Our Father has spent eternity reaching out to me. Teaching me the universal language of love.
I am so grateful Our Father took the time to speak my language.