The Power of Pointing

By John Blase
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
It's important to demonstrate to our children how to be, and how things work, and what things are. We always set an example to our children, and we need to explain the world to them — point them in the way they should go.

“It’s not nice to point.”
– Mama

It’s important for a father to draw his children’s attention to things outside themselves. That’s why, with all due respect to Mama, it’s OK to point. I think she’ll understand.

The lines that follow are from Wendell Berry’s The Hidden Wound. First, Berry is describing Aunt Georgie, an influential figure from his childhood:

She was always showing you something: a plant, a bloom, a tomato, an egg, an herb, a sprig of greens. Suddenly you saw it as she saw it – vivid, useful, free of all the chances against it, a blessing – and it entered shadowless into your mind.Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound. North Point Press, San Francisco, 1989, p. 73.

Berry talks also about his grandfather, pointing out hired hand Nick Watkins:

He admired him…and was always pointing him out to me as an example: “Look a yonder how old Nick sets up to drive his mules. Look how he takes hold of the lines. Remember that, and you’ll know something.”Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound. North Point Press, San Francisco, 1989, p. 23.

Berry was graced to have grown up in a world populated by phrases like “Look a yonder” and “Look how” and “Do you see that tomato?” He lived a life in the present that was sculpted by the power of pointing to the past. There are many who describe Wendell Berry and his writings with one word: wise.

Fathers, the power to point is accessible to us in two ways. We’ve got to look first and then have the presence of mind to point it out to those entrusted to us. This doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a gradual learning, especially if you did not have an Aunt Georgie or Grandfather Berry in your life. But just because something is gradual doesn’t mean it’s impractical or unattainable.

So first we’ve got to be looking ourselves. Are you aware of your surroundings? Do you pay attention to things outside of yourself? Are those railroad crossing instructions – Stop. Look. Listen. – a routine part of your day? Living this kind of a life involves slowing down. There’s no way around it. Now if you’re like me, you’ve already got lots of people telling you to slow down and savor life. Most days that seems utterly impossible; there is so much good to do for those we love. But if you’re like me, then you also know the truth of the saying that “good is often the enemy of great.”

Fathers, we’ll blink and they’ll be graduating from college, walking down aisles and stepping into marriage, welcoming their own children home from the maternity wing. Sunrise, sunset. It goes so fast. The lyrics to Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle should haunt us all; our children might grow up to be “just like me.” If you’re going to slow down, then carpe diem; today’s the day to begin. Don’t run yellow lights. Turn off e-mail on the weekends. Whatever you need to do, do it.

I firmly believe the last thing a father needs these days is another voice yelling, “You’re not doing enough!” Some days we don’t have time; some weeks we’re gone on business trips; some moments we miss things right in front of our noses. What’s a father to do?

If you noticed, the showing/pointing people in Berry’s life were not always his father. Berry’s grandfather filled that role at times, as did his Aunt Georgie. I, in no way, want to diminish the power that you have as a dad in pointing out people and places to your children. I hope you won’t diminish it either. At the same time, I want to encourage you to make certain that your children spend time in the presence of others you know that possess the power of pointing. I’m not sure it always takes a village, but there are days when a Grandfather Berry or an Aunt Georgie are indispensable to our children remembering and learning and knowing.

Gentlemen, you don’t always have to do it yourself. I just want to point that out.

Copyright © 2008 John Blase. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

John Blase

John Blase lives in Monument, CO with his wife, their three kids, and a beagle. He hopes to be remembered like the spider from E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web: A good friend and a good writer.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to editor[email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.