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Photo by Luke Detwiler

Photo by Luke Detwiler

By Diana Gee

My father is a man of few words. Because we live in different cities now, our interactions have been reduced to short, simple sentences flung back and forth through cyberspace.

“ How are you?”

“ Still kicking”

“ Anything new?”

“Same old, same old.”

I remember getting early morning car rides with my father to the inner city train station. He was heading to work, and I to the university. The rides were blanketed in that familiar silence. Some days I would try to spice things up with a question.

“ When did Grandpa first come to Canada?”

“ I don’t remember.”

“ What was it like when you came to Canada?

“ It wasn’t easy.”

Over the years, I’ve managed to draw out more of my family’s story from my father. But his silence has worked its strength as a barrier against unpleasant memories and painful losses. Downstream, life continued with adult children leaving home, grandchildren, and retirement. Why open the dam when there’s still plenty of fishing on a calm, tranquil lake?

When I was younger I had interpreted my father’s lack of words as rejection. He rarely said anything harsh, but neither did he say anything encouraging. Surprisingly, I never acted out to gain his attention. I had two older brothers to watch over me. However, brothers are a poor substitute for a father. So too, as I later discovered, are boyfriends.

But my father, with all his limitations as a fallible human being, also carries kindness. When my pet budgie suddenly died, my young heart broke. Unable to bear the sobbing of his eight-year-old daughter, he immediately purchased another budgie without saying a single word. His kindness also looked like working long shifts to feed the family, fixing up an old tricycle for my first bike, and teaching me how to use power tools.

I may have longed for a different father. A father that looked more like an 80s sitcom dad: white, funny, and physically affectionate. Instead I was given a sullen, Chinese man who never knew how to fully express himself and who never seemed fully content except when holding a fishing rod in one hand and a freshly-caught trout in the other.  I may have used the Heavenly Father as an alternative for my earthly father…. but I am too much like my Baba to deny the resemblance.

When I had decided to go into ministry I told myself I didn’t need my father’s blessing. I braced for his anger. While I didn’t get the verbal acceptance I secretly wanted, he helped load my possessions into his van and a rented trailer. He and my mother drove it for several days to set up their daughter in a new city, a city where she would eventually stay to work for the Church that he has distrusted all his life.

I can now say I never needed another father. He was there and he never left. Though I may still desire his approval for the work that I do, I no longer fear losing his love. I fear losing against time. In the years that I’ve been away from home, my father goes fishing a little less and moves a little slower. I think of that time in the near future when there will be no more fish to catch and no water to float on. Will that dam finally crumble? Or will we sit in silence with all the things we wish we could say?

Happy Father’s Day to all our dads and comfort to those who have lost fathers or who have been hurt by them. And grace to those who have lost loved ones in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Diana Gee is the Associate Pastor of Faith Community Christian Church in Vancouver, Canada. Diana is a second-generation, Chinese Canadian, born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is trained as a structural engineer (B.Sc. in Civil Engineering, University of Alberta) and has worked in consulting for six years. She completed her master’s degree at Regent College (M.Div.) in 2011.

Photo by Jesse Wagstaff

Photo by Jesse Wagstaff

By Ann Chen

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always had dreams about what it’d be like to be in full-time ministry. My senior year of college, I had a conversation with God wrestling with Him because He was leading me away from full-time vocational ministry into the marketplace. I remember when I asked Him why, I remember Him distinctly telling me that if I were to go into full-time ministry at that point, it’d kill my faith because it’d be too comfortable. Continue Reading »

Eating Alone?

Photo by Ushi Sama

Photo by Ushi Sama

By Young Lee Hertig

Last year  when visiting Korea, I read a newspaper article on the plane about a growing open table fellowship phenomenon at some restaurants in Seoul. Urbanization having displaced a large population from their families, many live as migrants to big cities which robs them of table fellowship with their families.  Rapidly more people in Seoul have become strangers and lone diners. Continue Reading »

Photo by Nate Steiner

Photo by Nate Steiner

By Eun Joo Angela Ryo

I never knew that moving could be so difficult.  So stressful.  So painful.  So…hollow.  I never really left Chicago since I had immigrated there at age 9.  I went to a state university that was only three hours away and came back home upon graduation to attend a nearby seminary, got married, had children, and bought a house and settled in the suburb of Chicago until a few months ago, when my husband landed a job near Ann Arbor.  Continue Reading »

Photo by neiljs

Photo by neiljs

By Chloe Sun

Most of us like the familiar and feel ambivalent about the foreign. When we experience something new, our brain tends to search our database to see if there is anything familiar about these new experiences. The new experiences are being interpreted in light of the old familiar experiences. Our brain seems to do this automatically as a way to process and to make sense with the foreign.

Having lived in China, Hong Kong and the US for decades and having visited a few other places, London is both a familiar and a foreign place to me. I have been visiting London for about two weeks now. There are many familiar scenes and experiences. Continue Reading »

Be Still…

Photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

Photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

By Maria Liu Wong

It is a gift to be able to say “no.” And it is a gift also to be able to say “yes.”

No matter who I talk to — whether women leaders in Christian theological education in Africa, Asia and North America, a collaborative mentoring group of female colleagues who are alumnae from my doctoral program at Columbia, or the local church women’s fellowship group I host and lead — the pressure, internal and external, to achieve holds our lives in sway. The world tells us it is normative to be known and valued by our actions and achievements. Continue Reading »

Photo by amira_a

Photo by amira_a

By Wendy Choy-Chan

We have been studying the Book of Ruth this quarter.  Each week, we work on translating verses from Hebrew into English.  Our minds are filled with Hebrew vocabulary, parsing rules, chiastic structures, word plays, and other information that aims to help us interpret the book.   Continue Reading »

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