Time Heals Wounds

Today is not only the birthday of the OPC. Closer to home it is also the day my recently deceased dad was born. This is not the place or the time to begin sorting through my relationship to him, but a number of thoughts come to mind on this June 11th.

When I first heard my father had died, I was on my way to the emergency room of a downtown Philadelphia hospital. I had fed the livestock, Cordelia and Isabelle, and during the procedure the lid to the can of cat food made a huge impression on the index finger of my left hand. The gash which would not close after an hour of tinkering was my penalty for kitchen awkwardness. After four hours at the hospital, I took five stitches. The wait in ER gave me time to sort out the logistics of burial and memorial service with my brother.

I was – and still am – glad for that cut because the scar not only reminds me of dad but also the wound that I still feel over his loss. And even if it has healed, and will continue to just as my own spirits have rebounded to some degree, it will always be a reminder of my great loss (because my father was a great man). In which case the cut was a providential form of self-mutilation. I may have been tempted to do so on my own, but cutting the body is not a proper way to honor God’s good creation. So rather than having a stud in my tongue or a tattoo on my left buttock cheek, I have a scar on my left hand. I can live with that. This day I even relish it.

On or before June 11th I usually buy my dad a birthday gift. In later years when he and my mother were both in a nursing home the challenge of buying something that he could use became greater. Now that I no longer need to buy a gift, I wonder what my failure as a consumer will do to our ailing economy. In fact, I wonder what the effects of death are generally for the economic health of a nation. Clearly, the funeral and flower industries benefit. And the federal government breaths a pint-size sigh of relief to have one more of its citizens off its role of Social Security beneficiaries, not to mention the inordinate expense of Medicare. But if a death brings savings for some and expenses for others, it also means none of the purchases that go with birthdays, Fathers’ Day, anniversaries, and the annual spending spree we call Christmas.

So to do my part for the economy, I’ll have to go out and spend on some “spirituous” refreshments. If I drink enough tonight to spend the amount I’d normally use to buy a birthday gift, the elixir may not only further heal my wounds but pickle them.

16 thoughts on “Time Heals Wounds

  1. Who says old schoolers are cold and dead? Good stuff.

    By the way, never woulda happened with a dog. You know, man’s best friend.


  2. I feel for you. It will take time. I just can’t tell you how much time. Longer than the 2.5 years my Mom has been gone.


  3. Mr. Hart,
    When Fathers and sons were close, the wounds never heal on this side. Its over ten years for me and when you tell your story it is like yesterday for me again.

    I also wanted to thank your for your writing and lectures. I am listening to the Machen series now, and just ordered your book on Machen.

    Best Regards,



  4. Dr. Hart,

    Thank you very much for this very moving tribute to your father. I still miss mine, who passed eleven years ago August. Time hasn’t exactly “healed” my wound, but as I age I realize I’m closer to the glorious day I’ll see him again. Blessings.


  5. A poignant post from the side of you rarely seen but perhaps of more lasting impact than many theological debates…the tearing of the flesh… a wound to be cherished …what a treasure to be able to describe your father as a “great man”. May more men of the household of faith fit such a description.


  6. DG,

    I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I appreciate with you the poignancy of such momentous memorials sharing one day. Happy birthdays, in memory of your dad and in honor of our OPC. And I’m sorry about your finger. Silly “livestock”, can’t they get their own food?


  7. I’ll have to try it with our cats. Should be a good time.

    I’ve read the next post now, too; I didn’t know about your mother. I am sorry for that great earthly loss of yours as well. Your article pays good homage to her. As many have said here, thank you for being personal. Veitch reminds us theology is not just a game. You have been, and are, an example of how older generations — family members and heroes — help shape our beliefs and principles. Thank you for your love of history and of family and of the church.


  8. Thanks, Becki. I wish I were as good an example as my parents. But maybe the historical zest I add to their legacy makes up for my obvious shortcomings.


  9. Darryl, I’m a young guy (33) and my parents are both still alive. I wrote about the passing of my little brother from a heart attack here. It’s really good as Christians, I think, when we reflect on the experience of losing loved ones to death. We testify that the hope we have comes not from us, nor the strenght to get through such times. A world with death isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, Jesus came and fixed that, we have the new heavens and new earth to look forward to, as the people of God, where there are no more death, no more tears. Thanks again.

    Grace and peace.


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