We're community, and the community works best with strong relationships. It can be tempting to live life with the mantra "Family first", to put me and mine before those I rub shoulders with daily. But that path deprives us of community. I was fortunate to have strong role models around me outside my immediate family to supplement the parenting I got at home.  That helped mould me as a person.

I now live as part of a local community in Ealing and as part of a church community called Redeemer.  I'm thankful that I still benefit from the support and friendship of those I worship with.

One aspect of this is benefiting from the fatherly care of my pastor and people like him.

The poem that follows celebrates this fathering I've received over the years, from older cousins, mentors, friends and pastors.  And from my late dad, the 'Honey Monster'.

(With great thanks to Godfrey Rust, who wrote a wonderful poem called 'Church is a verb'.)

Father is a verb.

Father's Day; and
Father Christmas
have tried to convince us,
but don't be fooled:
You can, may or will father,
depending on your mood.
For father is a verb.

It only works in the transitive;
you can't father alone,
only in relationship.

It doesn't resent hospital trips,
and offers wrap-around comfort
when a partnership

It's touch-line volume
drowns out all rivals.
And belly laughs come standard
with jokes on recycle.
Yes, father is a verb.

It's something that men do,
despite the hour,
it drives right on through
the night when life’s gone sour.
It'll hammer ten finger nails
to get the job done.

It will dance, heedless of decorum
forgetting reputation
(- with an ill-suited hat on).

It turns manliness
into awesome-men-ness,
it tempers strength
with a dose of gentleness. Yes,
father is a verb.

It works in the singular:
I can father;
you can father
      (I'm not talking sex here;
      that takes a partner.)
It works in the plural:
we can father; and
they can father, because,
you see, in this village
it's an joint activity,
we father (and mother)

It works best in the present tense,
happening now, not "LATER!"
It can be said in a gentle voice
or something - even - quieter;

sometimes active: directive, protecting;
but often responsive: just sitting, listening;
...holding and hugging;
it responds to need, you see,
but works best
works great

For example,

though it cost him dearly,
God Fathers us
and through us daily.
And one day, suit pressed,
He'll proudly walk
with the bride of Christ.
And as Father of the bride,
He'll host the party and blow the price;

(- BIGGEST - bar-bill - EVER)

And we'll be sure to save at least one dance
for Father.
Oh yes, you heard:
Father is a verb.

If you are looking for community, you'll find it at Redeemer.  Come and introduce yourself.