There's no way to describe a father's love. I have words, but all of them seem inadequate. And as I ponder the homily for my daughter's wedding, I realize that I will only be able to share those thoughts that will not lead me down a path of emotional annihilation. But I may get there yet.
When a father walks his daughter down the aisle, he is dragging her full history behind him. He sees her in the light of the cradle, full of promise and bloom, and at once sets out to protect her and to be her guardian. This is short-lived, however, and unattainable, as life intervenes, and with it the hurts, and slights, and injuries that a child cannot avoid and which a parent cannot shield.
A father, if he is wise, learns to allow his children the necessary pains, but these injure him also, and when he strides with his daughter down the aisle he hopes and prays that he was more of a refuge from, than a source of, life's miseries. Did I do enough? Did I do too little? Were our conversations helpful? Did I offer enough support? What will happen to her now . . . this adult version of my little girl?
Eventually the father falls back on the promise of love, and is redeemed by the eventualities of life's progression, even through his failures. If he is a praying man, a man of faith, he sees God's hand and God's handiwork. Yes, she is beautiful! She has come of age. She is one of the miracles he woke to each day, and discussed, and reached toward. But often he missed her. He did not see her. Not fully. Not completely. But through a glass dimly. Not as God sees. He knows only the faint shadow of the life as she lived it with him, and the rest if known only but to God.
He brings her down the aisle to another man. He cannot give her. Who can give another human life but God? But he can offer her promise, what he has come to know about her, and hope that she will see herself and all of her future endeavors as being born out of the One great love. This will be enough. As it has been enough for his own life, and has been enough for the world, which God has redeemed by love.
A father thinks these thoughts sometimes, late at night, when he is alone and when others cannot see his tears. He rarely speaks of them. He cannot give voice to the depth of it all.
He brings her to that moment in life called a wedding, and a marriage, and a future of promise. He hopes he has done enough, though there is more to be done.
She is now leaving the house. And he prays she will leave by God's grace for good, and make a new home birthed in her own love.