Originally posted on my old blog on Dec. 5, 2005. I retrieved it because something reminded me of this story today.
Now and then in my travels I’ll find little notes left in a hotel room or similar place. Today while traveling to Virginia on business I found one such note in my rental car after landing at Reagan International in Washington, DC. The note, written in blue ink on a pink marbled parchment read simply thus:
Dad spoke ‘loudest’ when he said nothing at all.
Instead of telling us not to do something.
That was it. Subtle, and one I almost tossed back into place without thinking twice about it. But then I read it again and the words really sunk in. What sage advice for a young father such as myself prone to insisting upon perfection unattainable by me a few years shy of 40, yet insisted upon in my soon-to-be 10-year old son. How utterly unreasonable and absurd I must seem to him at times.
The lessons I take from this note are legion. But before my son learns to zone me out completely, I need to put this note to work in my life as a father. And once again I find myself thinking back on Henry Nouwen’s reflections on the story of the prodigal son. The father never shouted, screamed or insisted upon anything except his sons both knowing that they are loved. I shall begin insisting upon that when I return home tomorrow evening.
By the way, I’m going to put the note back in the rental car when I return it tomorrow as well. And then I’m going to start thinking of little sayings of my own to leave behind when I travel or visit someplace. Perhaps it’s time to leave some as well as receive some. After all, it is the season of giving. Any suggestions?
Update: I am once again reading Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son as I always find something invaluable in that little book. I also need to remind myself to just say nothing sometimes. My heart is in the right place but I know I can be overwhelming and I tend to pour out everything inside of me that I feel about someone or something. Just ask a few friends of mine.
I’m working on it guys. Please be patient. I’ll get better.