Monday, June 18, 2012

When I had to talk in church

Yesterday I had to talk in church. It was father's day. Here's what I said:

               My dad and I have always ridden horses together. Before I could speak in sentences I was sitting in the saddle with Lorin riding around the pasture. And as I grew I got to ride on my own horse with a lead-rope that Lorin was holding on to. Over the years his grip slackened and before long I was going on rides all by myself. And now I’m graduated and on my way to college and I’m not allowed to bring along my horse or my father. So today, on Father’s day, I’m going to share with you five lessons I learned from Lorin.
               Through our time in on the horses, Lorin has taught me lots. I can identify a sticky geranium and differentiate between stinging nettles and mint leaves. I know to spot elk and deer and moose, and I know what do with a spooked horse. Without gentleness and patience, horses get spooked. They do not react kindly to sudden movements or loud noises. Now, neither gentleness nor patience are inherently part of my nature. And you know, I’m not sure they’re inherently part of Lorin’s nature either. Yet whether it’s dealing with a horse, talking politics with his borderline socialist daughter, or getting the news that, yet again, daughter’s car had a run in with a telephone pole, Lorin reacts with patience and gentleness. Which is lesson number one: patience and gentleness make life softer and sweeter.
               As well as teaching me to ride, Lorin tried, quite unsuccessfully, to teach me to fly fish. I went on exactly one fly fishing trip with him. In that one fly fishing trip, I managed to catch three fish as well as to hook the guide in the nose. And that was the end of my fishing career. But don’t think for a second that Lorin has ever let me forget that one fishing trip. Yet, sick as I get of hearing that story told over and over and over Lorin’s relentless teasing has taught me lesson number two: don’t take yourself too seriously. Laughing at yourself is healthy. Laughing at yourself leads to a happier life and better relationships.
               As the only daughter, I required a few “man activity” concessions from Lorin. So sometimes we have father-daughter outings that consist of shopping and lunch. Okay, so more often than not we skip the shopping part and just do lunch. But Lorin is always up for lunch together. Which is really meaningful, because it’s nice to know that there’s always time in his life for me. In fact, whenever I ask Lorin to be somewhere for me, he’s there, which is lesson number three: sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is be available. Knowing that my father is someone who will show up for me, someone who’s there to check in, someone who always has the time, is a constant that I’ve relied on.
               Even before the horses and fly fishing and lunch dates, Lorin would read to me. My earliest memories of Lorin are of reading books together. We’d read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series by the time I was nine. One of my favorite parts of the series is in The Silver Chair when Puddleglum the Marshwiggle stands up to the evil queen and says,
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones… I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t an Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.
I love this passage because I think it may actually be one of the most beautiful speeches in all of literature, and also because it’s my favorite example of lesson number four: integrity. Puddleglum knows what he believes and stands up for it. As, might I say, does Lorin.  Whether it’s reading his scriptures ever single day, insisting that home night happen this week or donating to Romney whatever I donate to Obama, Lorin stands up for what he believes. And even when I entirely disagree with him, I’ve respected and learned from Lorin’s deep-seeded integrity.
               Somewhere in the many many hours spent reading with me, Lorin realized that words mean more to me than anything else; that I cherish and hold on to them. And so, throughout my life, Lorin has written me notes. Little notes passed to me as I’m getting out of the car or on my way out the door or before I go to bed. Little notes just to say I love you, I’m proud of you and here’s why. And those notes have made the difference, because sometimes, that’s all a girl needs.  Wherever we were at in the epic journey that is a father-daughter relationship, I knew I was loved. In fact, I had proof I was loved. So the fifth and final lesson is this: find meaningful ways to show your love and do so frequently.
               I am so lucky to have such a wonderful father. And start my own life, I’ll carry with me the lessons he’s taught me. And I believe I’ll be a better person for it. 

PS. Remember that other talk I gave? Look who made the official website. This girl!


  1. Nothing but beautiful, Hannah!

  2. Borderline socialist? Jump in the wagon, honey. We're socialists!

    Love the Waterford News edition and loved your talk.