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My Poem: Seeking The Blessing of a Father

I thought about what I could give you that might be a gift this Christmas. Maybe a small piece of my often over-protected heart? Maybe the story of how I’ve sought my dad’s blessing?  How many of us struggle to receive a father’s blessing? I think we all do. And if we receive it, is it wh…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I thought about what I could give you that might be a gift this Christmas. Maybe a small piece of my often over-protected heart? Maybe the story of how I’ve sought my dad’s blessing? 

How many of us struggle to receive a father’s blessing? I think we all do. And if we receive it, is it what we need? This past year I’ve been caring for my dad. My father, the doctor and army colonel. The Yale grad. The man who has saved thousands of lives in wars and in hospitals around the world.

I’ve had my own battles to fight. One of them was to know that I was enough, that my father blessed me. He’s loved me the best he could, but it didn’t always translate to a language my heart could hear.

This past year I’ve been his caregiver. It’s been a hard year in which he’s almost died. He needed surgery. He came out of it paralyzed. I see him almost every day and leave him with a prayer.

I wrote this poem about it. Maybe you can see yourself in it somewhere.


Seeking The Blessing of a Father

At 17, my life was an angry fist

Shaken against the fathers –

Cowards running from 

The mess beneath their roofs.


Time begins with a father 

Hovering over chaos. 

I wanted that in my personal darkness,

But had no words to speak over it,

And no one to speak them.


Entropy wouldn’t be reversed, 

Congruence wouldn’t be created 

Of the pieces needing to be knit together,

Needing to be called good.


What is the job of a father? 

If not to pull together the parts 

Of creation under his roof

That want to fly apart?

To find the good in them?


The fathers had gone on a walkabout;

At 212 Bingham Rd,

My father sat on the couch,

But he had joined them.

And I made my own covenant with creation –

I would do likewise.


At 60, holding my father’s hand,

I received what he could not give

When I needed it most.

He said, “It is good. You are good.”

He breathed a prayer and squeezed my hand.


Was that a blessing?

Was it a prophetic reaching 

For a future reality?

Who was holding the hand of a father,

Joining him in the act of bringing order?


My life still has its messy parts, 

That defy the script,

That have been waiting all these years

For a father’s blessing – 

Answering the disciples’ prayer,

“May your kingdom come.”


Can I stop looking now?


If it wasn’t a miracle, 

I am going to call it one.

My father’s legs don’t work

But they brought him home from his walkabout;

They brought heaven to earth.


CNN has one story to tell,

But I have seen with my hearts’ eyes

That the creation story continues –

There is a chaos that I hover over

And whisper to:

“It is good.” 

Comments (22)

  • I think we are all longing to see each other, truly, not as we want to be seen, but as we are– and so I thank you. This moved me as a daughter and as a mother, as a person and connected in Christ as we are. I shared it in my circles and try to share sparingly….just what seems to sparkle in the wash of words we all encounter every day–the stuff that might move the heart along to good pasture! Thanks again.

    Yours in Christ!

  • Seth, what a beautiful rendition of reality. I had a father that didn’t speak my language also. He never said I love you, but in his actions I could see that. Too many times I missed the little blessings he was trying to convey. You are blessed to have realized this blessing from your Dad while your Dad is still here. Glad the “walkabout” ended back at home for you and the legacy he will have through you and your children.

  • COL Charles L Kidd II


    I believe the the feelings expressed – shared – lived above are as well the same for the most part in every soul- Son – Daughter- to their said Father be it biological or non biological – its the role responsibility – an inheriant metaphorical presence of – Acceptance – to be recognized-

    Being a Father / Mother is tough business- there are mistakes made / hard lessons learned- regardless of the millions of so called experts and books published – none can come close to the actuality of real circumstances between two human beings – relationships and quest for acceptance-

    As I’ve aged (mid 50’) and seen my parents (mid 70’) begin to look at the closing out of their lives- I have experienced this-
    That my parents have also looked for acceptance and reassurance from me – now the adult son that they too did a Good Job- that I accept them and love them and can stand beside them as a proud to have been reared by you – Mom/ Dad..
    I have these talks with my parents – and I let my children know as well- (4- 2 sons- 2 Daughters)… there are failures – there are hard lessons learned- there are hurts and pains – but there is forgiveness- there is cleansing- there is reassurance –
    There is time to feel and share new life and love- through the blessed Holy Spirit- through Gods love for us- His children-

    So I tip my hat to you and hug you as a brother – for your poem is touching and a reflection of the goodness we seek from our parents as well as a reflection that our parents also seek our verbal acceptance they too have done the best job they could have done –
    Our parents have seen their parents / grandparents / friends die- now they too face that day- to know their Children love and accept them – Mom Dad – I’m proud of you and how y’all reared me- is the greatest gift we can give to our parents-

    Thanks again for sharing
    Charles Kidd
    Sara Kidd World Racer

    • That’s really good, Charles. Thank you for that. I receive it as a gift and as a confirmation that the risk I took in sharing something so personal was worth it. We sons need to bless and thank our fathers as they begin to look at their own mortality and ask, “what was my life about?”

      I looked at your daughter’s blog just now and it looks like her race is off to a good start! It looks like you prepared her well for the life she’s leading.

  • Proud of you Seth. I get your emails, read a couple, and value your heart and passion. You are vulnerable and authentic. It is what the world needs most. Bless you…

    • Thanks, Brian. Your comment prompted me to check out your ministry on People-Bridge. Great stuff! I love how you work w/ your family. I take it that Win is your dad. Looks like you’ve received his blessing!

  • I love this gift! Thank you Seth. I have heard you share a little bit about your struggle for the blessing, but I am equally blessed by your sharing of your role of caring for the one who used to be so strong. I can relate to that.

    I have noticed in myself that even when the words of affirmation do come on occasion, they seem to bounce off my hardened memories of harshness. Perhaps for me it is no longer about seeking a blessing, but rather to be willing to receive them on the occasions they are given.

    Thank you for your blessing and for freely giving it to so many! I heard it from you and it landed deep and changed me, because it was consistent and it felt true.

    Merry Christmas to you and Karen!

  • Seth,
    As I read this I sit in the waiting room of The Cancer Center. Waiting as my father receives his second radiation treatment. I too am walking this road along side you and trying to love him well and reassure him he is loved and cherished. It has certainly led me to re-examine my own life and parenting and have come to the conclusion that life and parenting are messy. I am thankful for the grace I have received and the grace I can freely give because of it.
    I am keeping you in my prayers my friend.

    • Thanks, Jenn. I’m so sorry for your dad’s pain and for yours. Thanks for your prayers. I’ll pray for you as well.

  • Thanks, Kim. You have come so far in the 11 years since we first walked with you on the WR! Thanks for continuing to walk in ministry and a heart of giving.

  • Dearest Seth

    Your life and your heart continues to bless me and uplift me as you are vulnerable and open with the audience of all of us who read your blogs. I remember all the times of sitting beside my father while he was dying of cancer. I remember sitting beside him while the doctor gave him the diagnosis and His Hands Held his face as he wept. I rarely saw my dad weep. Under the exterior of working very hard for many years and being away a lot, his PTSD from the war, his harsh outbursts, he was a softie down inside. I got to see that many times throughout the years. There were times that I was so angry with him I could hardly talk to him. Those last years I spent caring for him and taking care of him with my mom also very sick and eventually I took care of my mom till she died as best I could are the best memories I have in my entire life besides raising my daughters and knowing and learning and loving Jesus more and more every single day. My father had so much love in his heart but was not always able to let it out but he was a snuggle bug and he was a sweetheart most of the time in his later years. Once he quit drinking after he got through the initial withdrawal which took a lot of years he became such a sweet person to be around and boy do I miss him. In fact I miss him so much it hurts I miss my mom equally if not more. I thank you so much for sharing your heart about your father in the beautiful picture of you and him sitting beside each other. I understand all about wanting the blessing. 100% Seth. You and I will have a lot of conversations in heaven I am sure. You are a wonderful brother in the Lord.

    Lovingly Your little Sister in Jesus,
    Sandy (now in Austin, Texas)

  • Thanks for sharing Seth. It’s been so inspiring and convicting to watch you walk out this season with your dad. Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

  • Thanks for sharing your story and your heart there, Sandy. Nothing like our relationship with our dads to arouse inner angst.

    Thanks too for the kind words. It does me good to know that my thoughts are connecting somewhere on this planet!

    Hope your Christmas is good.

  • Thanks Seth. I must admit your relationship and walk with your dad as you accompany him through the final stage of life is both inspiring and disturbing. Inspiring because you are doing what I wish I had done; disturbing because I didn’t. Ironically I was leading a boys substance abuse treatment group and helping them process their resentments toward their own dads when I received the call that mine had passed. The look on the boy’s faces as I explained the look on my own spoke volumes about what should be, could be but so often isn’t. Today is too late and all I am left with is the hope that the worship music and scriptures my cousin breathed into my dad’s ear as he lay unconscious somehow took root and lead him to Christ as he passed. Even so, Rom 8:28 applies. Healing the gap is part of the reason I’m a GAP year coach.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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