What is Family

3 Aug

When I was a child I was enamored with the book “Little Women”, a story about four sisters growing up in a loving family during the 1800’s in America. As an only child of divorced parents, I wanted more than any thing to create the kind of haven Marmee established for her daughters. It is therefore a great irony that I am single with no children when my childhood dream was to somehow create a happy family. 

Today as I gathered with my relatives at our family reunion, I pondered on what is family anyway. Is it having a spouse and 2.5 kids? Is it sharing genetics and history? Or is it being in a place where you feel loved and like you belong? 

In the New Testament Jesus makes a comment saying, “”In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” To me, this is the epitome of family. The epitome of having a family home to return to – the ultimate family reunion. 

The other morning I was up at the crack of dawn doing yoga on the dock (in my family I am the odd duck that does this sort of thing). As I walked back to my uncle’s summer house, I noticed all of our towels and bathing suits strewn on the clothesline from boating and swimming the day before. Taking in the sight, I thought of how happy my grandfather would be to know all his children and grandchildren had taken the time to travel from four corners of the states to be together. And I thank God my parents had the foresight to send me to my relatives every summer for it gave me an invaluable piece of stability and love that I desperately needed.  

When I was a little girl, I’d play in my grandparent’s basement, ride with my grandfather on a tractor lawn mower and prance around in corn fields and apple orchards. I vowed I’d have a nice house with good linen and china for entertaining and that I’d learn to cook EVERYTHING from scratch (including catsup, jam and macaroni and cheese) like my grandma did.

That hasn’t quite happened in the way I imagined. 

But what has happened is that I have learned to carry home within my heart. I carry the images of basements and farmhouses; lakes and forests and universities. I carry the oceans and mountains of California where I was mostly raised and the memories of my mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. But I also carry within me images of my church family and most important, I see my Father’s house. The one in which a room is being prepared just for me. A place where I belong – no matter what. 

And for that – and for family  – I am grateful. So very grateful.

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