I nearly fell off the chair when he asked for association words for "Father." For any other group, this question would have been O.K. But for my "cloistered brothers?" Eh?
I fully expected:
Father = drunkeness
Father = physical abuse
Father = deserter
Father = wife beater
Father = absent
Father = Bastardo!
In fact, upon leaving, I advised brother to never begin with a question, you don't know the answer to. But he told me, he was prepared for answers like the ones I expected. He knew what he was doing.
But my fears didn't happen. My "cloistered brothers" knew where he was going, and gave answers that were helpful to Brother. Their answers were something along the lines of "guide, loving, teacher, provider, protector, etc." Qualities in fathers that were the ideal. That we all wished we had. (Don't you just love my brothers?")
One of the points of Brother's Talk was that the quality that is present in any Father and child, is "relationship." And even if the father, or even the child, dies, that bond remains, even though it is not physically present. Does a priest feel that bond to all the people that he is responsible for? Don't all men feel that bond?
Many discussions arose during the talk and this was one. Does the bond die with death? Does one become more of a father when more children are born? Do children become "one with their father," when they look exactly like dad, act like dad, talk like dad, take over for him?
Eventually, Brother steered the discussion to the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus says, "Whoever sees me, sees the Father." "The Father and I are One." This relationship didn't die with Jesus' death.
And we are the adopted children of God. Wowza!
How's your relationship with your Father?