Justin and Angel, Jasson and Deahna, Daniel … June 16, 2012

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JUSTIN AND ANGEL

He came to live in my home when he was nine years old. It was a three-pack, he arriving with two brothers. He was extraordinarily intelligent, but also possessed the first fruits of a nature to take mischief to darker arenas. I loved him dearly. We fought and argued all through his adolescent years, more or less because such a predestination was upon us. When he went to college he made a decision to go to China to finish his studies and also to learn how to become a film-maker. While there, he met a beautiful woman named Angel, who not only possessed great intelligence but also came pre-packaged with an understanding of his American

Justin and Angel

culture and was fluent in English. His name was Justin. The pair have recently returned to the United States so that she can attain her MBA at UCLA and presently they are on their way to Chicago, Illinois, so she can perform her summer apprenticeship. When I requested that my sons and daughters-in-law use any money proposed for Father’s Day gifts to bless others, this is the note I received from them:

To give you our love and blessings on father’s day, here is how we want to spend the money:
In 2010, we watched a documentary called COVE, telling a story about how tons of dolphins get slaughtered every year in Japan and the official institutions so far can’t do anything about it because of all kinds of political complication. And here is One single man from US fighting to save them in Japan and all over the World one at a time. The movie helped him to establish the Foundation called Cove to fundraise and gather volunteers to continue such Mission and also hopefully make a change in Japan’s brutal practice one day. To support him and Cove was something we have been wanting to do and should have done 2 years ago. And thank you for reminding us that outside our life, there are things bigger that we should care about and be part of. We will be donating the fund for father’s day to this organization and help them carry the mission forward!  Love on the road, Angel and Justin

(In all candor, I used to be quite suspicious, if not critical, of those who pursued animal rights causes, fearing they were more interested in the beasts of the field than the least of those in their own human race. But as time has gone on and I have allowed myself to grow a brain, I realize that the sensitivity to the needs of the animal kingdom only enhances an awareness to have the same compassion on those around us. Yes, I think it’s possible to care about a dolphin and your brothers and sisters in trials nearby. Matter of fact, I think it’s possible to be concerned over a squirrel without being squirrelly, while helping a bum without it becoming a bummer. So thanks to Justin and Angel.)

JASSON AND DEAHNA

In June, 1986, my second-born son, Joshua, passed away after a painful six-year struggle of surviving a hit-and-run accident, which left him incapacitated. Almost three months to the date after Joshua’s death, we had a son born to us and we named him Jasson. Now, people do not replace one another like pictures on a wall, but what they do is provide a mural when the snapshot of joy has been removed from your life. And that Jasson was–talented, funny, possessing a soul and a heart along with his mind and strength, he has blessed me and our family over the years. Then to top everything off, he introduced us to Deahna,

Jasson and Deahna

who leaped into the experience of our family in full stride, and blessed every one of us with both her willingness and her independence. With her came a son named Justice, the budding delight needed at a time when all of our little ones had become big. When I made my request to have blessing given to others on my behalf for Father’s Day, I received the following:

My Dad asked me to not give him a gift this year for Father’s Day. Well, not a gift in the traditional sense. Instead of a tie rack,sunglasses that clip on to your regular glasses or some type of Edible Arrangement he requested that his sons honor him by giving to others. This is very much my Dad’s style – unending generosity and selflessness. My wife and I racked our brains trying to think of who to give to. We had landed on posting on Craigslist (since that is where we look for everything else) to find a family in need when it hit me. This is still Fathers Day and my Father has taught me how  and whom to give to my entire life. We rattled off a huge list of things that my Dad had taught me to love and revere and landed on a short list of ways to honor Jon Cring as a Father whilst giving to others.

My Dad always asks us to give money to him for his Birthday (instead of presents) so that he can bless everyone he can with the dollars we can accumulate. One of the main activities on these December 18ths is purchasing meals for people unbeknownst to them until they try to get their check. In an homage to this activity and working with our modest budget, we took the plan to a Popsicle shop (that we absolutely love) called Las Paletas. We purchased one Popsicle for my son (you cannot go to Las Paletas with a 3-year-old and deny him the pleasure of a chocolate-with mint chips treat) and then asked the associate who took our money to purchase the next 4 Popsicles for whomever came in after us to get frozen deliciousness. No one was currently behind us in line so we smiled and laughed while picturing the 4 perfect strangers who received a treat on this day because my Dad loves to bless. The young lady at the counter was incredibly giddy to take our request and particularly moved by the fact that it was in honor of my Father for Father’s day. She thanked us and my Dad for those who would not get the chance.

I was always instructed to give to the homeless. My Father instilled in me that these were human travelers in need that could use a couple of dollars far more than my judgment. They were in the throngs of the hardest of times and accusations of them being “lazy” or just “needing to get a job” were never allowed utterance in the household in which I was raised. Nashville no longer allows individuals to just request money/panhandle. If one needs to request funds they are to purchase newspapers entitled “the contributor” and then sell them for a dollar to people wherever they can. While looking for someone trying to sell one of these papers, we stopped at a grocery story. While walking in, I was stopped by an elderly gentleman leaning against the brick of the building. He explained that he was jobless and homeless and that on this special weekend he hoped to make a few bucks giving people Father’s Day cards. He had a handful of cards and envelopes and spoke of his, now passed, Father. I told him I love my Father very dearly and that he had asked me to not give him presents but rather to bless those around me for this Holiday. I took one of his cards and gave him far more cash than he requested. He said, “I don’t know your Daddy but I love him. God sent me a blessing and it was you.”

Finally, my Dad taught me that if you put a flower in a toilet it ceases to be a flower. The inner-city can be a rough place for children to be raised. They are not always given the best environment to succeed and I was taught that we should do all we can to help those dealt a more difficult hand to better their situation.  Also, Dad taught me to love the game of Football. He taught me how to play it with passion and discipline and his coaching of me in the sport helped mold me in many ways. That is why with the final few dollars I had left for this Father’s Day experiment I went to a local non-profit called Backfield in Motion. This center provides tutoring, camp, after-school-programs and football practice to the youth of the East Nashville inner city. I could not think of a place that more exemplified making a difference and that also dealt in the realms of what my Father had taught me was important. I crafted a short letter with the check I dropped off explaining why I was donating to the center and the man who inspired me to do so . It was a very fulfilling day thanks to a simple request from my pop, Jon Cring.

(It was so moving to me to receive this report. When Jasson was in high school, I always wondered if my escapades of charity and reaching out to the community were more embarrassing and confusing to him than enlightening. But as parents, we have to trust that ideas are like seeds–they rarely bloom immediately and may take years to gain root and blossom in the lives of our children. Just because apathy seems to be etched on the face of a young human, never assume that your efforts are meaningless. Thank you, Jasson and Deahna.)

DANIEL

The youngest of the three-pack who came into my home, as we absorbed them with our love and hopefully a bit of security, was Daniel.

Daniel

He was six years old, full of life, and already ornery enough to get himself in trouble if circumstances allowed. I watched him carefully over the years, discovering his tender side without being ashamed and also uncovering the value of truth in his heart. He sent me a quick note last night and told me of his joys and adventures, attending Bonaroo rock festival and even some encounters with young ladies he met. He politely asked me if it was all right if he went in with Jasson and Deahna on their project (since he was a single guy and all). Daniel, the answer is yes. And also, I want you to know how happy I am that you’re finding yourself, and that what you’re discovering is revealing and peeling back layers–unveiling a true person with true colors. I love you dearly.

Well, that’s what came in via my request to take Father’s Day funds and use them to enrich the lives of others. I hope you enjoyed it. I still have three little birds out there flying who may yet come in, and if they do, I will include them in tomorrow’s message. Always remember, if you were once a father, you can still enhance the lives of your children by changing things that need revision. And you also have the ability to stand on the good things you planted, allowing time the dignity and opportunity … to let them grow.

   

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