Flunking Sainthood

This week on By Common Consent, Samuel Brown has a gorgeous post about the reconciliation he was able to have with his father when his dad lay dying. Having recently experienced something similar with my own dad, this touched me greatly and I hope you will take a moment to read it. –JKR

Tod und Verklarung und Priestertum
by Sam MB

My dad was a troubled man. If he had lived in the time of Christ, I think he might have undergone an exorcism of the melancholy devil that short-circuited his attempts to be good and prevented his participation in meaningful relationships. Since he was born in the baby boom of the 1940s, he was instead diagnosed with manic depression and a personality disorder. We are all of us inclined to embellish in retrospect, to amplify faults in our cloudy memory–my father had moments of love and kindness that blessed the lives of the people around him. But his mind was broken, and his broken mind generally seemed to keep his soul hostage. As a boy, I resented his failings and his occasional emotional brutality to my mother, a resentment that finally resulted in our utter estrangement early in my teenage years. Though memory is hazy now, I think it likely that I did not speak to my father more than once from the age of 14 until Christmas break during my freshman year of college.

Shortly after my eighteenth birthday I experienced a conversion that broke my heart and began the process of remaking it in the image of Christ. I went to college in the Northeast, embracing a new academic and spiritual life with great enthusiasm. Though I periodically felt nostalgia for the Uinta Mountains and my high school friends, I did not stop to think about my father. Until an afternoon in November, yellow leaves drooping from trees to lawns in the crisp and exciting air of a Boston fall. There was a letter that day, with a return address at LDS Hospital. Not sure what it would contain, I opened it on my doorstep to discover a handwritten letter from my father. He expressed his pride at my accomplishments (I had secured a scholarship and got good grades) in simple, almost tedious language. He explained in a bare sentence that lately he was living at LDS Hospital as his liver failed. There was none of his usual attempts at grandiloquence, just the simple words of a life-weary man hoping to attract his son’s attention. I felt at that moment an ineffable surge of Christian love, the awareness that my father was beloved of God, that I had forgiven his trespasses against me and against my mother. My eyes moistened at the flow of spiritual power I experienced, reminiscent of the experience that had converted me a few months earlier.

Continue reading this post here.

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