Continuing our reflections on Fatherhood as an archetype of the Sacred Masculine, we offer the additional qualities of authentic fatherhood.
- Listening. The fatherly heart is also receptive; it listens with an open, receptive heart that acknowledges that people are different, are individuals, and will experience life differently. We all need listeners in our lives, especially when we are young. A fatherly heart has learned to project less and be at home with emptiness so as to be a good listener.
- Looking to the future. A fatherly heart considers the future. It realizes that a father is mortal and will not be around forever. A fatherly heart provides for the future as well as passing on values that will allow children to live and thrive once the father is not around.
- Encouraging. A fatherly heart is an encouraging heart. It helps develop the courage in children, teaching children how to be strong for the journey, how to survive in a sometimes hostile world, and what real strength is (as opposed to make-believe strength, such as power-over trips of racism, sexism, homophobia or militarism). The spiritual warrior is part of the father’s repertoire, and this is taught more by example than by words.
- Sees the big picture. A fatherly heart also drinks in Father Sky, the Cosmos, the big picture. It embodies magnanimity (“big soul” in Latin). A fatherly heart is not petty; it is not bitter because it does not live in the past or carry anger in the heart but rather finds healthy outlets for anger such as service and creativity and healing. The Blue Man is an integral part of the fatherly heart.
- Playful and affectionate. A fatherly heart is affectionate and playful. A fatherly heart seeks to share a love of life, imagination, and problem-solving. A fatherly heart values the gift of humor and laughter and does not take life overly seriously.
- Protecting. A fatherly heart protects, which is part of caring. Being a father means protecting children from the forces in the world that can destroy or stymie growth, whether greed, assault, sickness, or loneliness. A good father protects.
- Instructing. Humans, unlike most creatures, are born very ignorant. Our DNA, while full of potential freedom, does not dictate to us how to survive, what the rules of the game of life are, how this culture or that institution operates overtly and covertly. Children need parents for these teachings. They need fathers. Fathers help children find their boundaries, set boundaries, and learn inner discipline.
From: Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 191f.
Queries for Contemplation
In prayerful meditation, sit with the following questions: what are the insights that they open within you?
- Which of the characteristics listed here are strongest in your own heart and practice?
- Which are the weakest and need more development?
Be still with one or more of these elements of the Sacred Masculine and Fatherhood. Recite the word over and over. Let it wash over you. What is it telling you?
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.