Three times last week, at the Clergy Conference, at the Clergy Picnic and at the Camping Ministry Meeting, folks referred to the gathering as family. The first image that comes to mind when I think of family is of Staci and our boys. Reflecting for not more than a moment, that picture begins to expand like dropping a pebble in a still pond. The ripples begin to form at the speed of light.
There are my brothers and their families, my biological relatives and the cast of countless in-laws that seem to all mesh together. Yet these lines are blurred by those who have been like brothers and sisters for a good part of my journey. When the vision begins to take on that reality, my camp friends, church friends, basketball teams and even some very dear neighbors all have a familia nature.
Suddenly the ripples from the pebble in the pond look much more like a large splash from a large boulder. To mix metaphors, my experience of my family tree does not feel like long, thin wispy winter branches but rather a dense raspberry thicket.
The unquestionable make up of family seems to be part DNA, part the joining of clans, part shared experience, passion or dreams, and a big part mystery. It’s a holy mystery whose clarity only comes when we begin to embrace that we are all family…the family of God.