Last week, my extended family gathered at a city park in St. Louis. There were over 70 of us gathered from across the country. It was a reunion of sorts: aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, children, grandchildren.
Among us were staunch Republicans, Democrats, and those who, for a variety of reasons, don’t attach to either political party. There were Donald Trump supporters and Donald Trump detractors.
There were a wide variety of religious views represented, from Catholic to Protestant to Atheists and about everything in between.
About the only thing we all agreed on was unquestioned support for the local baseball team: our beloved Cardinals.
There was laughter aplenty. Stories were told of generations that span more than four centuries of our time here. Photo albums were shared and stories of loved ones long and newly departed were offered.
Games played with children of all ages included croquet, corn-hole, washers, golf, soccer, jenga, a variety of card games, football, and some sort of obstacle course invented by one of the cousins.
There were Dorhauers and Carusos and Le Pages and Haines’ and Schnabels and Johnsons and McArthers and Bauers and Tripps and Kottemans.
Everyone brought their favorite recipes to share, and before the day ended we had eaten enough to feed a large army. In spite of all the food we brought and ate, we didn’t fail to take the children over to the ice cream truck as it passed and give them an experience we all treasured in our early years.
The day came and went all too quickly. There were three of the siblings left when a police officer arrived well after dark to chase us off. We didn’t want to leave. We hadn’t all been together since our father died two and half years ago. We have learned not to take moments like this for granted. We don’t know when we will see each other again – or if when next we gather who will no longer be with us to share moments like this. We embraced, said we loved each other, and drove off.
This is a testament to family, and the blessings they bring.
We fight and we argue.
We disappoint and we apologize.
We call each other when we can.
We miss each other when we can’t be together.
We left each other long ago to start families of our own, and now when we gather we have to introduce each other to children and grandchildren who have arrived since last we met.
There is something profoundly gratifying in experiencing what my mother talked about often growing up together: knowing that no matter what has happened since last we met, there would be a table set for us all when we came back home.
That table has grown through the years as many others have joined it. Its expansion does not diminish what we feel for each other. For that expansion of a love that started when Jack fell in love with Judy, I find myself profoundly grateful.
May all our journeys lead us home. May the Spirit of the living God call us all back to a rootedness we experience when home; and may that sustain us for the long travels we encounter on these, our journeys Into the Mystic.