I returned today from a very special retreat called Samson healing retreat. I have been on several retreats over the course of my life and the Samson retreat is my favorite. It is run by The Kingsmen Apostolate and I am extremely blessed to be on the leadership team for it’s Samson retreats.
My very dear friend Father Jim Hutchins, who has provided me spiritual direction for many years, and who is a spiritual father to me was our retreat Chaplain. Fr. Jim is a special man of God and His priest. He was very moved by the honesty, openness and faith of the men on this retreat and he wrote this letter to all of us who attended it after our group Adoration, which is held on Saturday afternoon of this 3 night retreat.
“I love you“
The thoughts I had as we embraced at adoration last night.
My father died on June 17, 1982, a couple days before Father’s Day. For a couple years I had seen his health deteriorate. He was overweight (Thanks, Dad) and already had a heart attack at 48. Then at age 67 he had to have a quadruple bypass. The operation was a success but, as they say, the patient died. A blood clot got him.
But not before what I consider my most treasured memory of my father.
I was at home overnight. Mom was still alive. She was already in bed. Dad always liked to watch the late movies. He also liked to fall asleep before they were over. I liked to watch them with him. I watched. He slept.
This night at the end of the movie, we were pulling the shades and turning out the lights. We both ended up in the kitchen—our favorite room-to turn the lights out. This moment had been building up for several years as it became more and more evident that I might not have him much longer.
We looked at each other and I reached out and hugged him and he hugged me. And I told him “I love you”. He told me he loved me. And we just stood there hugging.
That moment was different from the other times we hugged and said , “I love you”. This was not only the iconic moment when I felt the full flood of the love that he had been giving me for 41 years but it was also and still is the iconic moment when I felt the full flood of God the Father’s love for me.
That’s what was in the hug and those words. I pray that your “I love you” to others will be a similar moment which our heavenly Father uses to communicate his love for others through you.
Our embrace repeated over and over 15-16 times (?) at adoration was like a gushing waterfall under which I stood while I was flooded once again with my father’s love/my Father’s love. It just kept coming.
Thank you for helping me relive that precious moment. My tears were tears of joy.
I wanted to share this letter that Fr. Jim wrote to our Samson group on my blog and Apostolate Walk By Faith To Live as it captures so well my sentiments about my own father/Father.
I lost my father to death on June 21, 2008 and he also suffered from heart disease for about 30 years.
My father also provided guidance, love and affection that emanated from the Father’s love.
He provided so much to me and for me and he was the most important influence in shaping the man I became.
His Catholic faith and love for The Eucharist and Confession he passed on to me by example and words.
If God allowed me to pick my own father I could not have picked a better man.
We also loved to watch TV together, especially football and old movies and we loved to walk together, and we did often as well as hang out in his pool where he lived in Florida for the last fifteen years of his life.
We also loved to attend Church together.
Finally, we too loved to sit in the kitchen or dining room together and eat! My father could make me laugh until I cried without even trying to be funny. I think I miss that the most.
He was a great example of what our heavenly Father’s love must be for us and he certainly provided me the full floodgates of love our heavenly Father will and does shower upon me as his beloved child.
Thanks dad and thank you DAD for your great love for me!
Thank you Fr. Jim for reminding me about my father’s love/my Father’s love for me; and thank you for being a spiritual father to me now and continuing to show me the love of the Father.
I pray I am the example of the Father’s love to my children and other’s that you request me to be as my father was to me and as you are to so many.
Your brother in Christ Jesus,