Today my parents came to visit us. It was a really good day. We didn’t do anything too out of the ordinary but it still stands to serve as a day that will mark a special place in my memories.
One of the best moments of the day came after lunch. The fellas in the family; my oldest son Ethan, my brother Brian, my father, and myself all went for a stroll outside—in the woods. It was great. Perhaps the best part of the whole affair was the simplicity of it. We just went outside, for a walk, together.
At one point I looked up to see my dad, who has never been an overly affectionate man, holding my three-year-old son’s hand. It was touching. Why? Because it was a perfect picture of rare and raw masculinity at work.
My dad is a man’s man. He loves the outdoors. He would rather be outdoors than anywhere else you can imagine. He likes all of the kinds of things that the men of his generation enjoy about the outdoors, but mostly he just enjoys experiencing God’s creation.
Back to the walk in the woods…
This picture perfect masculine moment came when my dad, a hard working outdoorsman of the rarest kind, used his strength in a way that offered my son protection. It was the simplest of gestures. But it carried so much meaning for me. It was more than my dad holding my son’s hand.
It was a multigenerational extension of strength, identity, and initiation—all wrapped up in the protecting hand of a grandfather. Something that is becoming rare in our society today.
We are no longer at a crossroads in our civilization. No, the crossroads has long since passed, and may indeed no longer even be visible from our rear view mirrors. We missed the turning point. Men stopped being men. Fathers stopped being fathers. A generation grew up with dad’s in their homes that were not dad’s in any other capacity that mattered—and having lived that way they have believed that fatherhood is optional. My sons’ world is a world where the numbers of kids who know their dads is fewer than it has ever been, and the number who know their grandpas is fewer still.
I will be there for my boys. As much as I can be. My dad has always been there for me—and will be a grandpa to my sons. But what will the continuing repercussions be for a society that finds itself lacking grandpas who want to hold their grandsons’ hands?
What will the implications be for boys, of all ages, who don’t have someone to model strength for them? To tell them who they are? And give them a loving push into manhood?
The answer is all around us. It’s in our prisons. It’s in our broken sense of honor, justice, and morality. It’s found in the depravity that permeates our culture like a dirty poisonous fog. It’s death.
Without the guiding embrace of a man, on some level, a boy cannot become a man—and a man cannot truly live.
God walked with Adam in the Garden. He showed him strength, purpose, and identity. He showed him fatherhood. And ever since the Fall we’ve been fighting to get it back.
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