These past few days I have been thinking about family ties.
There are many different branches to a family. Some we see everyday like my immediate family, the children I have birthed. We live together, a hotch potch of personalities, held together by a familiarity of love, laughter and interdependence.
Then there is the immediate family that no longer live at home and their children, some of whom we see most days…who come and go through our home … slipping into our daily life like they actually live here. The stepson and his wife who live on the other side of the world but we stay in touch thanks to the modern digital world of Skype. The grandson who for now is lost to us. A grandson (the stepson’s son) who was born of parents too young and despite our best efforts to stay in touch with him his mother chose to cut off all contact with us when she remarried. Phone calls to him went unanswered and Birthday and Christmas gifts were never acknowledged. As he got older we sent cheques that were never cashed. I think of him at this time of the year as another birthday approaches and we are unable to send our love and let him know that he is a much loved member of our family.
I think of the family that I grew up with. My sister, my parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles..all important for learning those first lessons in life and for a sense of identity.. knowing where you have come from and enabling you to move forward in the world with a clearer vision to where you are heading to (or not heading to as the case may be). A family that has become smaller (through death) as the years have passed….leaving little more than a fragile shell to hold onto as the past is left behind.
Then there is the kinship of community. The friends that I have made along the way…friends that are closer than the sister who has chosen a different path in life. Groups of like-minded people that become friends and family, who are linked together through shared interests and belief systems. I have been blessed to be on a waka journey, a spiritual awakening, travelling forward with friends and much Aroha (love), helping to forge a path for others who are following behind.
Family ties and kinship doesn’t just cover those bound together by blood …it stretches far and wide to also encompass all who live under the sun.
One year my dad gave my mum a small picture for an aniversary gift..a picture that contained a quote….I have no idea what happened to the picture but I still remember the quote.
I found one version of it here.
I Shall Pass Throught This World But Once…
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.”
It is credited to a French Quaker missionary from the 1800’s named Stephen Grellet .
This week I have been thinking of how powerful it is to send out love to your family, to your friends, to the greater community. How powerful it is to love and forgive and to be of service to another, to give of yourself. Even the gift of a smile can make a huge difference to a strangers day.