This week a reporter for the Santa Barbara News Press newspaper asked if he could interview me for a feature story, and I said yes.
I met him at a coffee shop on Friday afternoon. He put his digital tape recorder on the table in front of us, and then he started asking questions.
A few minutes into the interview he asked how my faith impacts my world view, and I told him that I believe that God loves the world — and that people who love God are called to love the world as well. Not to judge or hate or belittle, but love.
“How did you come to believe in a God like that?” he asked.
Without hesitation I said, “Because that’s the God my parents told me about. And as far back as I can remember, that’s how my parents loved the world.”
I woke up this morning thinking about Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day. My parents have been married for decades, so I tend to think of both holidays as Parents’ Day.) Anyway. This morning, I thought back to the interview I had last week, and I thought even further back to the memories I have of my parents.
When I think of my parents, I remember two things about them. The first thing is the way they laughed. If we lost my parents at church, my siblings and I would walk up the stairs to the balcony that overlooked the church lobby, and we would listen for their laugh. Once we located the laugh, we could safely navigate the crowd and find our way to them.
The second thing I remember is their love. I remember the insatiable, unconditional way in which they loved me — and the world around us. I remember them being a constant presence at sporting events and recitals and graduations. I remember them supporting me as I went through cancer treatments.
I also remember going to New York City and other urban areas and volunteering at soup kitchens and homeless shelters. For much of my childhood we lived in a parsonage next to the church, and homeless people would knock on our door because they were lost and hungry. While my dad was in his office figuring out how much money was in the benevolence fund that week, my mom and I would make tuna salad sandwiches and lemonade, and we’d sit on the front porch with the homeless people and chat with them while they scarfed down the first food they’d had in a long time.
There were a lot of things my parents didn’t give me — like a large monetary inheritance or a college fund or a new car.
But when I think about my parents, I think they gave me something more than money can buy. They gave me a memory of their laughter and their love, which I continue to treasure.
I’m not a parent so I don’t feel like an expert about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But I am a child who has been loved by exceptional parents. And as I remember them today, I remember their laughter and their unconditional love.
And I feel exceptionally lucky — for a mom and dad who love me so well, and for a God who so loves the world.