Tuesday, June 8, 2010
It's About the Love!
So, here I am in Charleston, South Carolina. We're on our annual summer vacation with family, a tradition since the early 1980'S.
We get together with my wife's brother and her two sisters, their spouses, there grown children and the children of these grown children.
Like I said, this has been going on for quite sometime.
And the mother of this clan, known affectionately as mom Idoni by the great grans, turned 88 years old when we arrived here on Saturday.
So, there are 18 adults here, eight grandchildren, and one in the oven. And this isn't the whole clan. Those eight grandchildren and the one in the oven are also Mom Idoni's great grandchildren.
I don't have a canvas large enough to paint a picture of the memories that have been brushed on our minds from the many times this clan has come together for this annual tradition.
Beautiful, colorful memories! And, well, truth be known, sometimes all the colors don't match, We are family but we are also individuals and each of us has our own brush and colors for our pictures about life. But heck, have you ever seen a beautiful rainbow with just one color?
So we are family and individuals who have opinions and over these so many years we have, at times, offered our opinions about one thing or another regarding this wild wonderful life we have been given.
There have been one on one conversations, and group discussions by the pool, on the beach, in the kitchen and of course, around the table where we break bread together. There have even been heated arguments about politics, about God, about religion, about love, about relationships, There have been tears, there has been laughter, there have been hugs, kisses, walking out of the room behaviors and the whole gambit of what it means to be family, what it means to be community. A beautiful rainbow with many colors. Family!
Those of us who can see the light at the end of the tunnel...and I do mean THE LIGHT...have mellowed in the way we state our cases and our opinions. We have been given the grace to have lived long enough in this old skin sack to just be comfortable as we are. Don't get me wrong. We do still have our opinions but they rest more in our hearts now than they do in our egos.I think it's safe to say that we have all been each other's teachers in some way or another.
Those of us who are seeing that light coming closer, well we have been good examples to these younger ones who are now adults and we have also been bad examples.
Somewhere in Leviticus it says, "and a little child shall lead them."
Well, we have been led in ways we could have never been led, had it not been for these precious adult children in our lives and now they continue to grace us with grandchildren to lead us even further into what it means to be human and what it means to love.
And I am sure there will come a day when these very little ones, lead these adult children who have led us.
So what am I really trying to say in all this?
Let me say it by sharing with you one important part of this yearly tradition, which took place on Sunday night this year.
We call it Italian Night in honor of the Patriarch of this clan, Joe Idoni, affectionately known as Papa Joe who died 28 years ago.
My Italian father-in-law was short in stature but tall in spirit. He was the true Italian father-in-law, loving and working hard to support his family and of course, he loved spaghetti and meat balls. For as long as I knew him, every Sunday dinner was spaghetti and meatballs.
And so it is we officially begin vacation week each year with Italian night, spaghetti and meatballs, honoring Papa Joe.
Last night we sat at the table you see in the above picture ( thanks to my son Jason for his photography gifts). We played Italian music and we remembered Papa Joe. We welcomed a new daughter-in-law, Anne Callison, soon to be Anne Faulkner, into the family and played Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, in honor of my first grandchild, (Caroline) who is still growing in her precious mommies stomach.
As I observed all this on Sunday night I was reminded of the Eucharist, where in the Christian Tradition, we remember the love and sacrifice of Jesus.
As I observed all these many faces, lives, opinions, and numerous colors of life at this table, I was reminded that this too, this moment was in fact...let me say that again...in fact, the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine. This was Eucharist!
And I was also reminded of one of my favorite scriptures...God is love...and I was reminded of all the many times we had broken bread as a family with all our many colors, all our many opinions, all our many arguments, all our many laughs, all our many tears.
And yet here we are again, breaking bread and sharing wine...here we are again, sharing what really matters when all those differences come together...
This mysterious thing we call love, this mysterious thing we spend our lives trying to incarnate in all that we do.
In one of John's epistles it says, "he who is of love is of God"
Everyone at this table is at a different place in their lives with their God but because each of us strive to understand who and what this God is...each of us believe in the one thing that this mysterious God has called all of humankind to:
We are called to love and to share that love.
And each of us continues to struggle to do that as this mysterious God would have us to do it.
What does that look like?
Well, just come and break bread with our clan sometime. We will show you the good and the bad in this struggle to become human.
And in that, we will also show you family!
And in the end, we just love it!