Tonight I’ve got some Paul Simon blasting away as I settle in to write. My nose peeps out from my pashmina, my feet warm on a toasty rice bag and I keep wishing one of the cats would settle on my lap, right along with my laptop. It’s just one of those frigid winter nights where, if I were finally warm by heating the house, it would probably involve flames of great magnitude. I generally avoid that sort of thing with the house, so with nose and hands like the icicles forming outside, I commence.
Paul Simon stands out to me as a truly gifted writer and lyricist. He tells a story with each of his songs. I keep thinking about his song, Father & Daughter.
…And though I can’t guarantee
There’s nothing scary hiding under your bed
I’m gonna stand guard
Like a postcard of a Golden Retriever
And never leave till I leave you
With a sweet dream in your head
I’m gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you’ll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you — by Paul Simon, Father & Daughter
We had a Labrador Retriever when I was a kid. Well, we had several over the years – but my own dog made an impression on me. He’d follow my Dad’s every move like it was his life’s duty to protect him. Dad was never terrifically agile and Tank seemed to model wordless devotion to him. Picture it: Dad would take a step. Tank would take a step. And so when Simon sings about ‘standing guard like a postcard of a Golden Retriever’, it reminds me of the stalwart way in which we fiercely protect those that we love. We stand guard at the door of their hearts, as if we could prevent anything bad from approaching them. Love is like that. It’s fierce. Love makes us become the loudest cheerleader. We do crazy things to show our devotion sometimes, like painting signs.
“…Gonna paint a sign so you’ll always know … there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.”
It reminds me of the way my Dad would leave these breadcrumbs of clues throughout our lives, to let us know how deeply he cared. He was an odd duck, really. Every now and again I’ll be struck with a reminder, a sweet uncomplicated memory of his love for me. Dads, I’ve found, are generally imperfect like mine was. Thus when I look at my heavenly Father, I think about how He goes to even greater lengths to remind me that I’m His girl.
Oh, how the Father leaves His own breadcrumbs as reminders of His love for us. Most of us have been so intent on getting everything just so these past weeks, in preparation for Christmas. We had to get the tree up … a symbol of that Calvary tree on which Christ would die for us. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a wreath on the door. The wreath…before you take it down and pass it with the outgoing trash, remember that it’s a symbol of that spiney crown of thorns the Son would wear as He trod the path to Golgotha. At Christmastime, wreaths are everywhere! I try and think about that thorny crown everytime I see one. The wreath’s red bow is not coincidental as its a symbol of the blood that ran down our Savior’s face as the wreath of thorns was pressed against his forehead.
Our lives are chock full of symbols and hints and breadcrumbs. Not only from our heavenly Father, but from each other. Every day, it seems like, someone is reaching out just a tiny bit to tell us what they think. They’re crying out for help. A friend’s quiet comment, “Thanks for being there.” means so much more than that. She’s trying to say how much you have become part of the fabric of her life, the support system that she’s leaning on. Those around us are desperate for acceptance and affirmation. And, every day, we have choices as to whether or not we respond in kind, hearing them, or let the moment pass. You and I can be the ones who paint a sign, so they’ll always know, as long as one and one is two, there could never be one who loves them as much as you and I do.
It’s in living loved, that we can love others outrageously.