At the Amusement Park with Daddy
He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. – Mark 4:35-41
I remember being at an amusement park on Lake Erie’s shore as a sudden storm blew in and a huge funnel appeared over the water. The water came down in sheets. Masses of people huddled into a huge shelter where indoor rides, now silent, and food vendors, now closed, remained quiet as everyone sat and prayed –some doing what I now know to be the rosary. Just then, my helium balloon got away from me and went up to the rafters. I began to cry. Dad told me not to worry. He asked a kid if he could borrow his balloon. Using the other kid’s balloon, standing on a table, he captivated everyone’s attention and distracted the fears of hundreds as he tried to get my balloon down. The crowd gasped and reacted with each attempt, and when he finally got it, everyone cheered . . . my Dad was a hero, and then the storm was over, everything was OK.
Another time at the amusement park with Daddy, I ran to a line with children to wait for a ride. As I was talking and playing with them, a mother came running and pulled her little boy away from me, shrinking back in horror as if I were a wild animal. I must have been only about 7 years old, but I remember the look in her eyes to this day. And then Daddy came over to me and gave me my first lesson about racism: the storm was over, and everything was OK.
Gracious God, thank you for all the good Daddies. I know it’s not easy to be a good Daddy and everyone did not have a Dad as great as mine. Even those of us with great Daddies have some memories of key disappointments. For the sake of our own inner wounded children help us visualize and be for our own inner children the Daddies we needed and need even as adults. You are our great parent who always knows just what to do for us, O God, calming our storm, saying “Peace! Be still!” Everything’s OK. Amen.
Ron Buford is the Pastor of the Congregational Community Church of Sunnyvale, UCC, Sunnyvale, California.