A Father's Resilient Love

A Father's Resilient Love

With Father's Day quickly approaching (t-minus 12 days!), we hope you take time to think about the people who have been in your life, the way they have shaped you and the adventures that brought you together. In anticipation of Father's Day, Kammok team member Travis Perkins reflects on one of his important places with his father, and the incredibly moving truths of resilient love. 

 

The resilient love of a father is not something to be understood, but experienced.  

Recently I traveled deep into the Texas panhandle (i.e. an infinite void) and eventually dropped down into Palo Duro Canyon, “the nations 2nd largest canyon.” You could call this trip somewhat of a pilgrimage and I had primed my soul and body for revelation.

My time in the canyon could be summed up by:

  • 0 Rattlesnakes (thank you, Jesus)
  • 1 Busted hip flexor
  • 3 Sunrise/Sunset runs
  • 5 Gallons of water consumed
  • 16 oz of whiskey & more couscous than I'd like to admit
  • 30+ miles of trail

All of this, multiple hours of silence, and meditation brought me to this single truth:

The resilient love of a father is not something to be understood, but experienced.

I had visited PDC once before with my family. I was a young boy at the time, but remember the trip in vivid clarity. It’s one of the first, if not the earliest memory I have of hiking through the wild Earth.

Seen here, my father and I putting out some strong shirt-less Saturday vibes

Seen here, my father and I putting out some strong shirt-less Saturday vibes

It was brutally hot in the desert canyon that day, and my sister and I quickly fell into the early stages of heat exhaustion. I can still hear the sounds of my sister getting sick, her cries echoing across the canyon floor. I remember the sheer exhaustion and worry on my parents’ faces. They had, undoubtedly, underestimated the weather conditions that weekend, and were forced to literally carry us back to the car.

Here, my sister and I (pre-heat exhaustion) soak in the view on the lighthouse trail

Here, my sister and I (pre-heat exhaustion) soak in the view on the lighthouse trail

 

The crux of this story really takes place when we arrive back at the car. I had been carrying with me a plastic toy lizard that had been my road trip companion and second in command.

During one of our many breaks, I had sat him down on a rock to soak up desert sun (as lizards do from time to time) and ultimately forgot him there on the rock.

When we got back in the car, tears quickly followed the realization that I had left it miles back on the trail.

This wrecked my 7 year-old world.

To this day I will never forget the moments that followed my quiet sobbing, as my father broke the silence and got out of the car.  

His words were simple, "I'll go back." With that, he walked back into the desert.

The resilient love of a father is not something to be understood, but experienced.

This past weekend I went back to the canyon as a tribute to my dad and to that memory. I couldn’t remember what trail we had been on that day, so I ran/hiked them all. Trail running is incredibly unique in the way it utilizes your mind. Paradoxically, it forces you to keep focus, and at the same time allows your thoughts to drift. Given enough time and space, your thoughts will settle into a single idea or concept. And, if you’re heart is willing; you’ll find yourself in a space of divine inspiration.

While running those trails, I began to unpack this idea of resilient love, and this heavy truth revealed itself:

The resilient love of a father is not something to just be understood, but experienced.

*click on the images above to scroll gallery

The value of resiliency has seemed to fade in today’s culture and it’s faded in me.

We’re conditioned for instant gratification, the ultimate goal of happiness. We’ve developed these almost nomadic spirits, constantly packing up and moving camp in the search for comfort and happiness. When we are met with these crux moments, when loving well isn’t easy, we turn tail and move on, leaving a wake of disappointment and disenchantment in one another.

The heavy truth is, we’ve all got someone continually walking back into the desert for us, whether we realize it or not. Ancient Hebrew scriptures speak about God’s unfailing love at almost every page. Christian scriptures speak about the sacrificial, resilient love of God in man. It’s not until you’ve experienced the receiving end of this kind of love, that you can fully understand it. My father passed away when I was 19, but even after all these years, his life is still teaching me how to live and love well.

The resilient love of a father is not something to just be understood, but experienced.

The beauty is, that resilient love and strength is made available to all of us.

So--this is my prayer--to carry that same strength inside me.

To walk back into the desert for you.

Story and photography by Travis Perkins.

 

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