Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, June 18, 2022

This is a framed photo hanging on my home office wall. It’s of my dad, who was probably 50 at the time. I was taking a college photography class, learning to shoot and develop black-and-white pictures in my home darkroom, and I was thus a menace to one and all when they saw me lurking around with my Honeywell Pentax SP500.

In this case, Dad didn’t see me coming. This is a candid shot, taken in our basement, showing Dad settled back on an old couch we had down there. Dad worked an 11-to-7 night shift at a state institution for the developmentally disabled, but these aren’t his professional work garments. These are his “gentleman farmer” clothes, and he’s probably just come in from mowing the county highway ditches near our farm. See that grease-stained shirt? See those brawny arms and those thick fingers? Dad was a workin’ man.

But notice that face—thoughtful, remote, spiritual. Dad was a godly Christian, one who did not have two sides to his nature. He didn’t behave one way to the public and another way to his family. He treated everyone with courteous, other-centered gentleness. He preferred solitude to society, listening rather than talking. What magazine article he’s reading I don’t know, but he’s perusing it thoughtfully, filtering its ideas through his faith in God.

A side note: I’ve always been a bit curious about the back page of that magazine he’s holding. I’m not sure if you can make out the print at the top, but it says “Who Else Wants a Big Raise in Pay?” Earlier this week I typed that sentence into Google with quote marks around it, and lo and behold, I found that exact ad! It’s from a magazine printed in the late 1960s, just a few years before I took Dad’s photo. It’s an ad for LaSalle, an adult-education correspondence school.

As I say, Dad was a private guy. The instant he heard my camera click, he flicked a mildly annoyed glance at me, and murmured, “Maylan . . . don’t do that.”

Because of his taciturnity and love of solitude, I never got to know Dad really well. But one of my life’s most solid certainties is that when the Lord returns, Dad will rise from his grave a mile northwest of Rockham, South Dakota. And I’m going to search him out among the resurrected crowds, and get to know him better.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.