Monday, September 9, 2013

Gateways Part 1

To my son Tommy,

They say that cigarettes, booze, and marijuana are gateway drugs.  Once you open that gateway, you are presented with a bunch more doors that are much easier open, and most of those doors are filled with vice and despair.  There is no certainty that you will open all or any of the other doors when you go through one gateway, but it does make it easier and more likely.  My job, as a father, is to warn you about these bad gateways and the path that certain ones may lead you down.

But not all gateways are bad.  You can read a good short story and that can open up a great literary world and next you know you are reading novels.  You can take a basic computer course and he next thing you know you have an entire career in programming.  You can take one bite of one of your mother's delicious deserts and decide that baking will be your life.  These are the type of gateways I need to steer you towards.

I can lead you to the door. I can bore a peephole so you get a glimpse of what lies behind, but only you can unlock the door and twist the handle and go through.  Just like I can't completely barricade a bad gateway, I can't drag you by the scruff of your neck through a good gateway, no matter how much I would like to do both.  My job is to help you make the right decisions and choose the right doors, but it is still your choices that matter most.

What got me thinking about gateways was a "Sharing Christ" course I am taking at church.  Yes, here your father is going to go "all religious" on you again.  The seven week "Sharing Christ" course is a compliment to the "Discovering Christ" course which I probably haven't mentioned by name before but inspired such thoughts and letters as Unconditionally and Quests last year. This new course examines how we share Christ in our lives and with others.  I began to think of all the gateways that I have gone through to come to this point in my life.

To be honest, I did have a good foundation.  When I said you can't be dragged by the scruff of your neck, I meant you can't be dragged forever and sooner or later you have to want to make the choice.  Usually the dragging ends with college, though the guilt may never end from your parents.  I was dragged, kicking and screaming at times, in my young life to Mass.  I was forced to spend Sundays attending school to learn about my religion when I would have rather been out playing.  I was taught the prayers and received the Sacraments.  I was what you would call a cradle Catholic.  But I am not sure that I ever bought into the whole shebang.  My father brought me through these gateways so if I ever decided to go through those doors again, I would know the combination to the lock and be somewhat familiar with the area after I opened the door.  When I turned 18 I promptly closed any of those gateways and doors and turned my back on what I had known.  I began opening up gateways that would lead me far away from the path of Christ.

So how did I return?  How did I end up in a point in my life where I am voluntarily spending an extra two hours on a Sunday evening at a church course?  And even writing about it and thinking about it through the week?  Perhaps that is best explored in another letter, maybe tomorrow or later in the week after I ponder that exact question myself, but I can tell you that you and your mommy and love figure prominently into those choices.  For now, just know that I hope to show you the right path, the right doors, the right gateways, that lead you to a full and happy life with and in Christ.  I am just now opening a few of these doors myself and it is pretty amazing to see what can be in store for you as well.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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