The Face of My Father

“You have forgotten the face of your father!”
This is a very serious rebuke from the world of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, which I do not, and I mean DO NOT recommend. OK, as with most, if not all of his writing, the story is compelling and draws you in, so that by the time you realize just how deep, dark, graphic, and disturbing the landscape is, you can’t pull the handle on the ejector seat – you have to hang on for the ride, to see how things come out. But it’s a tough ride. Well written? Yes. Hard, disturbing, dark? Mega yes.
So, in Mid-World, in the reality of the Gunslinger, when you have done something shameful, you hear this stern rebuke – “you have forgotten the face of your father!” If you have done something with honor, the inverse is true – “you have not forgotten the face of your father.”
A day ago, I forgot the face of my father. As with just about everything in our lives, there are multiple layers and reasons for this, so we’re allowed to pursue some measure of balance between “I’m a boneheaded dufus of titanic proportions” and “hey man, give me a break – I’m only human.” The balance between extending ourselves grace and holding ourselves accountable.
BUT… I had forgotten the face of my father.
What does that mean? Well, I can’t speak for Mr. King (or for the legions of Dark Tower fans, most of whom would threaten me with vile retribution at an incorrect interpretation of the “sacred” writings – which is to say, “any interpretation but theirs.” Help me…), but I can speak to my own view of these words, poor and unlearned as I am (thus trying to deflect a few of the fiery darts of the raving fanpersons and their swift and terrible e-responses).
When I have forgotten the face of my father, I’m not talking about Oscar. Truth be told, if I want to see his face, I only need look in a mirror – when the dust settled on the majority of my weight loss, I turned into his doppelganger. I wear the face of my dad – my father.
When “I’ve forgotten the face of my father,” I’ve forgotten my history. I’ve forgotten what brought me here – what has taught me, forged me, what makes me who I am. I’ve forgotten the path, the struggles, the triumphs, the lessons learned and the grace and mercy of my Father. When I have forgotten the face of my Father, I’ve disconnected from my center, my purpose, my call, my hope, and my heart.
A serious rebuke indeed.
In this sense, you could hear Nathan saying to David, “you have forgotten the face of your Father!” The Hebrews gathered around the gold cow – “you have forgotten the face of your Father!” Peter hearing the rooster crow – “you have forgotten the face of your Father!”
David replies, “I have sinned.”
The Hebrews wail and cry. Moses tosses the tablets.
Peter weeps.
To realize that you’ve forgotten the face of your Father, is to know deep, deep shame. To feel the weight of responsibility for your wrong actions or attitudes. No dodging, no guilt shifting, no blame game – you are face to face with the absolute knowledge of your wrongness.
“I cry pardon, sai.” That would be the response of the broken one in the world of the Gunslinger.
I realized that I had gone through my day being snitty, lazy and impatient. I was trying to use food to self-medicate, as I had done so many times in my past, making myself not only ashamed but sick as well.
(I can force my new system to do something like this, but it will let me know, in NO uncertain terms, that I have not only forgotten the face of my father, but his innards as well.)
I numbed up and shut down in my chair, instead of going to Tai Chi class, which I had planned on doing, and was actually looking forward to (it was Halloween and I was planning to show up in clown face. Would have been funny – doing Tai Chi in my big blue and yellow shoes. Don’t know how my teacher would have felt about it, but I’d have laughed a lot…).
I forgot the face of my Father. I turned away from my history, what has brought me to this place. The things that have made me the new creature I am today. The grace and mercy that has so illuminated my life that it shines out from me, blinding at times. I stepped off the path, I turned back toward the bondage of my past, and I embraced the things set aside instead of holding to the new life God has set before me.
I cry pardon, sai.
Now, it’s time to begin to restore the balance. Not to wallow in the failure, but to learn from it and step away from it. And not to just shrug it off as a “bad hair day,” (since I have those most every day in my new Chia Pet life) but to accept accountability for my choices. To neither punish myself or to just ignore it. To see what really happened, why I responded the way I did, and to make mindful plans to help correct this in the future.
To remember the face of my Father.
Will I forget again? Absolutely. Will I have to revisit and relearn? Yup. Will I ever get it down perfectly?…
Someday – when I see the face of my Father.

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