By Sister Julie Myers, OSF
Families are so interesting aren’t they!! Think about it—we don’t get to choose who our parents are. We don’t even get to choose our siblings, nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even our cousins. Oh sure, we can emotionally choose to disown them, but physically we are and always will be connected. God’s ginormous capacity to love brings us together without our permission. And for those who marry in life, it is seen again in a new light when love binds one to a spouse—there is no choosing of in-laws or extended family.
It is in this unique network of family where we learn that we can either build relationships or create divisions; allow love to lead us forward or hate/dislike to drag us backward.
For the past 15 years or so, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to attend my best friend’s family reunion. Most of the family is from the local area, but there are a number who have a bit of a drive to make. This past weekend was their 35th Eckel Family Reunion. The festivities began on Friday evening with a potluck supper and extended into Sunday.
The gathering once again took place around the pond located on the family farm. There are tents, pop-ups, and campers, Rangers, Gators, pick-ups and cars, fishing boats, wave-runners and lots and lots of little kids!! There are siblings, in-laws and even ex-in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family friends. This year we had 21 folks camping and well over 50 people sharing food, drinks, laughter and stories.
I’m sure they don’t all like each other all of the time but it is very obvious that they love each other all of the time!! There is a reverence for family that clearly has been passed down from generation to generation. Each year I attend, I notice the very presence of “love” that did not allow them to choose each other, a love that binds them together a little deeper each time they gather.
I have learned much from this family and always leave thanking them and God for sharing this gift of love. Clearly, they have made the choice to build relationships and allow love to lead the way. Whether married or part of a religious community, family is a gift to be treasured.
How do you celebrate the gift of your family and the love that binds you together?