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The Letter

Updated on August 28, 2015

to my daughter

As I reflect upon your wedding day, I do not know what I will write or where the words will go. I pray my love would be as ink, my heart a letter that you may fold and carry as you go. If there is a single word that owns the all of me, it is found in daddy and so I write to you today with the sound of it resounding in my ear.

Children come to rest upon a fathers heart like dew that settles on a grass, with such soft stillness that neither grass nor heart know that they have been consumed. They come like rain upon the surface of a lake and then vanish, water into water. Forever more, the lake can not define what in itself is rain or what is lake.

Like the lake and the rain, I do not know where you begin or where I end. I only know that you are here and that my banks are marked and embedded with who you are. There is a channel carved deep within my heart that carries the rain of every yesterday and leaves your water lapping, forever and gently, at my shores.

Fathers can not give away their daughters anymore than the lake can give back the rain, anymore than the grass can give back the dew. Instead, a gracious God, provides another lake to hold the rain a father can not hold. A place for overflow to spill upon a husbands heart, to mark his banks, to carve a channel deep into his heart and to lap forever, at his shores. Today, as your rain prepares to fall again, all my yesterdays move across the surface of my lake and I hear them whisper, you are still, forever daddy.

I wish today, that I could impart to you, the secret of a happy marriage, but, I haven't anything to give but what I have learned within the boundaries of my own.. Whatever else, I say of marriage, above all else, remember this; As I look back upon my life, marriage is the greatest place I've ever been. It did not come because of hope. It did not come of wish nor did it come of feeling. It came of promise and promise is the call upon your life today. I pray that what I've learned will help you pack for an extraordinary journey.

I've learned that the problem confronting every marriage is best viewed when looking back into a mirror.

I've learned that a soul mate isn't the someone you find, it is someone you refuse to lose.

I have learned that marrying the right person is less important than becoming the right person.

I've learned that time does not heal every wound. Healing is reserved for the ointment of forgiveness. Left to time alone the smallest wound will drain the life from any marriage. Love may be the water from which the marriage drinks, but forgiveness is the well from which love must draw the water.

Finally, and at the heart of all that matters, I have learned that feelings are insufficient in measuring the depth of any love. Feelings are like the leaves that dress the tree but they will not keep the tree anymore than feelings will keep the heart. Such burden belongs to roots and promise is the root that keeps a marriage.

It isn't that feelings are unimportant, but all too often we are simply in love with the "feeling" of being in love.

The marriage that last forever is born of promise that last forever. Born of rain that does not measure what it gives because the more it gives, the greater the vanishing of itself into the other.

If what I've written seems unfair, if it seems too much of the responsibility comes to bear upon who you are and what you do, then I have written well. Marriage is about the conquest of self and not the conquest of another. It is about the surrender of your own importance for the privilege of exaggerating someone elses. It is about enduring winters because you know that Spring will come again. It is about trusting life to roots, about a promise made between lake and rain.

It is the nature of rain to sacrifice itself into the filling of a lake. To become part and all of where it falls. It neither counts nor measures what it gives in falling. So it is with love. Every moment that loves assesses, counts or measures what it gives in response to what it gets, it looses its way and forgets the purpose that begged its coming. The depth of every love is revealed, not from the heart which responds in equal measure, but from the completeness of its own surrender.

So my Princess, I am here today, not to give away, but to witness the falling of a rain and the coming of a lake. I come to steal into the fabric of your heart and to leave there, a thread with which to weave a father's prayer.

I pray that you will never turn from this journey; that you may know the length and breadth, the height and the depth of love that is rooted to a promise. I pray that this day, will be hammered out upon an anvil of faith and forged in a fire of resolve. I pray that right will never yield to the ever moving horizon which comes to flirt with feeling. I pray that forgiveness will always bathe your heart and wash from there whatever hurt might beg to stay. I pray that the love you have today, will trust the power of promise and bring you an eternal spring.

So my princess, breathe the promise. Cling to it, like a child within the womb and somewhere along the way, he will hear your heart whisper across the surface of his lake. " Neither you nor I, will ever know again, where one begins or where one ends. I am forever more, water of your water".

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    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I feel privileged to read this beautiful, heartfelt letter again, Alan. I feel certain that it will remain one of your daughter's most cherished possessions, as you are her cherished "Daddy."

      Thanks to Theresa for sharing.

      Wishing the best for you and your family in this Christmas season.....Jaye

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Alan - I read your fine, wise, heartbreaking (in the good way) and beautiful letter to your daughter this evening (morning) as I have so many times before, through a veil of tears. Then I took the time to read each response and then your response, just as I have several times before. When I got to the final comment I was shocked to find no comment from me...

      Thinking back so many months all I can imagine is that each time I read it I felt inadequate to respond or that I had too little time at the moment to respond properly. Then life moved on and I did not return to leave a comment, which now of course, appalls me.

      To say anything at all is to repeat all the other comments, but... this is immeasurably moving, beautiful, heart-warming, heart-breaking, so full of wisdom about what it is to love, to promise, to work at a marriage (and oneself) over the years.... and you are right, many times the Promise must hold us when noting else can.... and we must always turn inward to improve who we are rather than in bitterness judging the other.

      My father loved me greatly, and although he was quite articulate, his strengths did not lie in poetry or philosophy or the language of emotions (not until the last year of his life), but I would like to believe that if he could have expressed himself in that manner he would have tried to say what you have so eloquently conveyed. May God bless and keep both of you. Theresa

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 3 years ago from oregon

      Hello manatita44, Thank you for the kind words. I am truly humbled by your praise.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Truly exquisite. Awesome and beautiful! I do not know if your prose is poetry or poetry prose. They are most certainly the best words in their best order.

      As it flows like a true epic poem, I would make it thus by shortening the lines and making it look more like stanzas. However, do not make it rhyme and you need not do so on Hub Pages.

      Rather, you can have it as a longer momento somewhere which you can show proudly to your children, Grands and God-lovers alike. It reads like a conversation of sublimity, beauty and loftiness, between God and the seeker. A rare quality in a poet. I commend you highly.

    • profile image

      JWDufour 4 years ago

      My husband passed away in June, just four months before our daughter's wedding. Your words beautifully expressed, not only the love he felt for our children, but how he felt about marriage. It touched me deeply and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this truly beautiful letter.

    • superfly47 profile image

      David McKenzie 4 years ago from Canada

      That was a great piece of writing, I can see why you have so many followers.

    • arb profile image
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      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      hello again bizarrett81. Thank you again for reading. I am glad you enjoyed this. It is especially dear to me.

    • bizarrett81 profile image

      bizarrett81 4 years ago from Maine

      "Like the lake and the rain, I do not know where you begin or where I end. I only know that you are here and that my banks are marked and embedded with who you are".

      That is so beautiful and this whole thing had me close to tears.

    • arb profile image
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      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Every daughter should live in such a world. Every daughter should be raised as a princess. From such attention princesses are made. She is no doubt in you. Set her free and the white horse will come and carry you away! I know that it is so.

    • Edlira profile image

      Edlira 4 years ago

      What a lucky girl your daughter is, to have such a wonderful dad...! You write of worlds I have only imagined or dreamt of. Worlds I want to live in and help to make. I honestly have to thank you. Reading your writings softenes my heart and makes me want to be a better person. As corny as it may sound, it is true. You have a beautiful soul and a fine mind.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes - it's so. Truly and beautifully expressed. It's nice to share soil.

    • profile image

      arb 4 years ago

      Nellieanna, all meaningful and lasting relationships, as you have noted repeatedly, are bathe in mutual admiration and are by nature perpetually giving. Your poetry has, dose and will always beg from me the fondest respect. We are but different flowers in the same garden. Your presence there simply accentuates my love for it. " Our hearts are where our treasure lies" Therefore, you are never far away. (:

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Alan - It's no surprise it's popular, because it speaks with such depth & truth from a perspective that some of us can never experience first-hand: that of being 'daddy'. But it's parental; - applicable in that special way, too.

      It's easy to see in the comments how well it communicates that meaning to other fathers and mothers - and surely to daughters and sons as well. It should be required reading for people creating and in families.

      You bring it to life as nothing else I've ever read or heard. It's a masterpiece. The demonstration of your deeply felt out-of-conviction of vital life lessons which you wanted to share with your daughter ring so absolutely true; not an empty word in it.

      At such times I especially feel inadequate to be enjoying such a meaningful friendship - but there it is! Thank you. I treasure it dearly.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Hello dear, dear butterfly, I am so thankful for your return. "The letter" has now been read over 2200 times. I"ve written nothing else which approaches its popularity. Each day, everyday, 10 new people read it and share. I treasure each of your visits as I treasure increasingly our very special friendship.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      I read it 22 months ago. I read it 8 months ago. Each time of reading, it unfolded more truth and beauty. Just now upon reading every word and relating to every metaphor and principle it speaks, it reveals such special meaning, Alan. You, who and what your are - are in it. Thank you again for sharing it.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Thank you for reading and for the very kind comment.

    • expertscolumn profile image

      Stanley Soman 4 years ago from New York

      This is powerful, thank you for words of wisdom

    • arb profile image
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      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Thank you azure_sky. It is a favorite of both she and I.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Hello valleypoet, thank you for reading and sorry for the delay in responding. My computer has been under repair and has this day, returned to me. There is a deep place for fathers within their daughters. It is one of great need and forever calls to him to fill. Begin now and it will become as easy as breathing.

    • azure_sky profile image

      azure_sky 4 years ago from Somewhere on the Beach, if I am lucky :)

      You outdid yourself on this one, arb! It was a beautiful letter full of heartfelt advice that I know your daughter will keep with her always. How fortunate for her to have you and your wife as role models! Your love shines through!! Priceless!! Wow.....really impressed with the way that it seemed to just flow like water............ Upped++++

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 4 years ago

      Your daughter is a very lucky girl to have had you guiding her through her childhood. With the wisdom that is imparted here, she cannot go far wrong my friend. I will have to start thinking about what I can say to my daughter on her wedding day, however as she isn't yet 4 years old, I will just be glad to be still around I guess! Thanks Arb:-))

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Hi cat and thanks for the wonderful comments. BTW, dads all talk in different ways, I write. I would prefer to talk. In the end, however you say it, is all that matters

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Arb,

      What a privilege to read such an intimate correspondence between father and daughter!

      I was reading part through a veil of tears because it was so profoundly beautiful. My dad never wrote a letter or had a talk with me, but the lingering look between us before he escorted me down the aisle conveyed volumes because we had a very special bond .

      "It is about the surrender of your own importance for the privilege of exaggerating someone else's." There is so much wisdom in this alone! Your daughter is truly blessed to have for her father a man like you. Thank you for sharing this.

      My best to you, as always,

      Cat:)

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      @ahorseback! welcome my friend, its been awhile. Thanks for the kind words.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      What an awesome statement , "A Father does not give a daughter away " ...............beautiful ! And I do know this , she will always be there !arb!.........:-}

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 4 years ago from oregon

      Hello Deborah, thanks so much for reading and for the gracious comment. We fathers are notorious for not knowing how to say what we want to say. Perhaps why I must write.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Oh this made me cry it is so beautiful. your words made me realize what my father must have been thinking but didn't know how to say it when he gave me away in marriage.

      Many blessings to you and yours

      Debbie

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      Hi Jim! Thank you for so gracious a comment. I am a little behind the eight ball this month. Just got back from Shakespear in the park. Delightful evening and fun with my daughter and grandaughter. Life is good!

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      I can only repeat what Nellieanna, Jaye, Snakeslane and many others have said. This is an incredibly beautiful, heartfelt, well-written piece, filled with love and wisdom. Again, my eyes brim as does my heart in reading this.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      thank you Jaye, I appreciate the kind comments. She and her husband are living in Bali now. Hope to see her soon.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      How blessed your daughter is to have a father such as you. What a beautiful and wise letter you gave to her on her wedding day. I am sure she will treasure it all of her life.

      Like snakeslane, I also thought of Kahil Gibran as your writing flowed through my mind.

      Jaye

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      Hello snakeslane. Thank you for a very kind and gracious comment.I haven't read Gibran since my colledge days. Perhaps, his influence resides somewhere in my conscious still.

    • snakeslane profile image

      snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

      Hello arb, this is really beautiful, precious and sensitive. Reading your letter to your daughter, I am reminded of the writings of Kahil Gibran and verses from the I Ching. Lovely. Regards, snakeslane

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      A place, so familiar with the rain. It will there, feel free to be at home.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      I just reread it all. Now my eyes are pouring so I can barely see to type - at the universal wisdom of your advice to her, the depth of the heart which gives it and the incomparable beauty of the words with which you've expressed it. It deserves a place in a higher place, with other lasting words of wisdom and beauty.

      (all I can offer for such a place is in my own heart)

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      I can hardly envision you without a smile. Perhaps, the reason, everything you write makes me smile. As always (:

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      As if this exquisite tribute to a lovely daughter and the letter's outpouring of a dear father's love for her could possibly be any lovelier and more dear, now the addition of the picture of the two of you just sets the gem in a crown of true love and dedication. I'm overwhelmed - and, as the first time I read The Letter, my eyes are all moist and there's a smile on my face.

      Emme's response here is endearing too. . . . .

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 6 years ago from oregon

      Hello Hyphenbird, It is nice to meet you. Thank you for the gracious comment and the follow. I look forward to reading your work. Be well.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Your sweet love for your daughter brings back memories of my own father. This is a beautiful testimony of your relationship and desires for her next step in life.

      " I come to steal into the fabric of your heart and to leave there, a thread with which to weave a father's prayer." Breathtaking!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      It is my pleasure to read and to praise such a precious connection and sense the depth of it, Alan. It is truly awesome in the truest sense of the word.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 6 years ago from oregon

      To garnish praise from a work I so endear, adds luster to my love for it. Perhaps because I know, it stays with her, long after I am gone. Thank you for reading it and for the very thoughtful comment.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      My glasses are smudged again for this day from reading you, but this time not from laughing so hard. This is incredibly sweet and beautiful, arb. It is poetry, prayer, prose, practicality and promise all in one. Your Emme understands it. I'm glad I searched your archives to find it, after you mentioned it as one of your serious writs. It's near perfect.

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 6 years ago from oregon

      Good morning Susan! Thank you for reading and for the kind reply.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a wonderful letter to give your daughter, beautiful!

    • arb profile image
      Author

      arb 6 years ago from oregon

      Daddy is very, very lucky as are all daddy's.

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 6 years ago

      This brought tears to my eyes, arb.

      Beautifully written, straight from the heart.

      Emme, is very very lucky.

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      Emme 6 years ago

      Makes me cry every time daddy! I can honestly say that very few things mean as much to me as this letter!

    • saintodd profile image

      saintodd 6 years ago from Suffolk, VA

      Voted up and rated. Very heart filled and honest. Thank you for sharing this transparent from a daddy to his daughter. As a father of 3 daughters I see my princes grow up so fast. I've already watched one get married and look forward to those bitter sweet days of my other two as well. Great Hub. Keep writing. saintodd