Before heading out to nature, my solace, a morning workshop I’m leading at Elkhorn Slough, I consider the concept of father. At dictionary.com, I read the word can be confused with further and farther. Might that be part of the problem, that fathering and mothering, on a large countrywide scale have gotten farther, further?
There’s no cloistering myself. I may go out beside the slough this morning and enjoy the lift of fog the warmth of sun’s arrival and the workshop participants and the movement of my body through open space, but I’m going walking and teaching with a sense of loss and absence and overwhelming confusion over the hate crimes, the murders in Charleston.
On this day before Father’s Day, my first without a father, though without a father who died a fair and appropriate death at 93, I feel the loss of the verb to father on a large scale, a societal, cultural one. Unable to make sense of the killings and unwilling to consider these unnatural deaths out of the context the recent many murders of black men, I am looking for understanding.
The verb to father: “to beget,” “to assume as one’s own; take responsibility of.” There is what I find lacking, “the taking responsibility of.” I’m not a writer with answers but one with questions though I am certain a light needs to be held on the causes of poverty and gun control and racism, the lack of justice and fairness in our country, the unequal access to opportunity. I want to shoulder some responsibility here but I’m unsure how, “to act as a father toward” our country’s plight, “to take charge of begetting.” That’s the question I pose for art-making, for conversation, for action.