The summer before my senior year of high school, I attended a spiritual leadership camp in the mountains of Sequoia National Park. Those seven days were an incredibly memorable and formative time of my life. I still have many memories and photographs from that week, but the thing I hold most dear is a letter. Long before the camp week began, the leaders asked parents to write a letter to their son or daughter--a letter of encouragement, affirmation, and love. These letters were passed out one of the evenings before dinner. As I watched our leaders distribute the white envelopes before our meal, I was sure mine would be from my mother. It's not that my father was absent or unloving, not the in the slightest. Still, my mother was typically the one who doled out compliments and words of affection. But when I pulled the folded paper from the envelope, I was surprised to see my father's distinct cursive bleeding through. As I read his words of praise for me, a deep well of pride and love swelled in my heart. You see, I have always admired my father greatly. And while reading the two-page letter, I realized that the admiration went both ways.
My father is one of the, if not the, wisest and most intelligent man I know. His knowledge is vast and his integrity is solid. A self-made man, he's not one to tout his impressive resume or accomplishments. He keeps his head down, works hard, and is beloved by many. To say I am profoundly grateful for his example is an understatement.
He gave me this collection of Robert Browning volumes a few years back. I've proudly displayed them on our book shelf. And while I do enjoy reading Browning here and there, I most love these books for what they represent--my father, our shared interests, and his love for me.