“In every conceivable way, family is link to the past, and bridge to the future” – Alex Haley.
First – a disclaimer: I am struggling to write this morning on my new device (I suppose you could call it an early Christmas gift), an i-pad. And though it is wonderful for addictions such as facebook, checking emails, and of course that gift from Satan, Candy Crush, it is proving less easy to type my document. I only hope that when it comes to cutting and pasting, I don’t fail miserably!
I am home for Christmas. Those of you who know me, are already aware that that statement is a bit tricky. Home for me is hard to define – is it the land of my birth? Is it the land of my ancestors? Is it the island in the sun, the place of my formative years? Or the land where I have spent the last 36 years, and raised a family?
Is home a place or a concept? And how do you define family? Is family the people with whom you share DNA, or those you adopt along the way? Or if you are lucky, do you consider all of the above your family? Of course with the DNA style family you have a little bit more freedom perhaps, knowledge that no matter what, these people will put up with you, will hopefully forgive you a little more easily than those who did not know you from childhood.
As someone who has known many families along my journey, I have been blessed. There are many groups with whom I can relax, knowing they know me. In meeting new people, it may take a while to appreciate them, and for them to appreciate you, but the effort is worth it. You never know what they have to offer you, what they bring to the conversation.
I read a beautiful book recently. In it an expert is asked why he let an amateur talk at length on the subject he knew so well. He replied that he never learnt anything from listening to himself. How much do you let yourself learn from others? We often are convinced of our own superiority on many subjects, and forget to listen. Have you ever watched a young child try to make sense of the world? Look through those eyes and see the world anew this season. Remember your own days of naive wonderment, when each new fact seemed to be your own particular invention. Yesterday I watched one of my 20 great-nieces and nephews as he relished some fruit, then later enjoyed his Christmas mince-pies. And then participated in some Boxing Day glee by helping to distribute and open gifts. If you ever feel jaded, spend time with the kids. They will renew your sense of excitement and adventure in a tough world.
We walk this path together. I hope you forgive my short message this morning, but I must get ready for the next stage of my journey, traveling to the land of my ancestors, and to the link to my past.
On this Friday morning, I hope you have been enjoying your Christmas and are ready for 2014. A new year gives you the opportunity for new beginnings, a new way of looking at old realities. But as you stop and reflect, remember to appreciate your family and those around you. We walk this path together, and if we can give someone a lift along the way we should do so. And as you share space with others, remember to appreciate their stories, listen and learn. Your teacher is not always the one with the most education.
Have a wonderful last weekend of 2013, may the season be bright and full of blessed memories of the past, appreciation of the present, and hope for the future.