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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Silent Love of Belonging

I am aware of what blogs can do. It becomes easy to present an idealized version of family or faith or home.  I try not to do that.  It isn't terribly hard for me since there is not a whole lotta perfection going on around here.  The thing is that I only have permission to throw myself under the bus.  This family in which I live and the family in which I grew up most definitely are not perfect. Thank God for that because that would mean that they would be families in which I don't fit.  Just like every other family in the universe, we have certainly, if not hurt each other at times, disappointed each other at times. We've said the wrong thing, made the wrong choice, thought of self before the clan.

In this family that my husband and I are building, we are in progress.  I think I have shared the sense that I sometimes worry when things seem to be going reasonably well.  I have friends at different stages of life and I know what might be ahead.  I know that the smiles won't always come easy between us.  I know that the children might not always thrive.  We might find a teenager or young adult or even an older adult making decisions we don't like.  We might already be finding our children making choices that concern us. 

So, what might we give them so that they are ready to go out in the world and inevitably make some big, fat, enormous mistakes?  What do we parents, children and siblings have to fall on when we get worried about or disappointed in or really, really mad at our people?  Do we have to read a bunch of parenting and family dynamic handbooks and go to seminars?  Do we have to talk and talk and talk to our family members until they JUST SPILL IT so that we can tell them exactly what to do and where to go and how to be?  I tend to go in that direction too often.  I tend to talk A LOT.  You are not shocked by this, I'm sure.  I'm trying to remember that maybe all I need to do is to just love.  I'm trying to love with the (more) silent love that makes them know that they belong here.  The love that TS Eliot writes about in this poem that I included in an earlier post:

There is no vocabulary for love within a family.
Love that's lived in, but not looked at.
Love within the light of which all else is seen.
The love within which all other love finds speech.
This love is silent.

Can we give our people this silent, sustaining, persistent love?  Can we give the love that can stretch far across a country to hold a family together?  Can it be a love that can reach across the miles that might separate one family member from another even when they are in the same house? We might be far away. We might not hear an audible voice. We might not see it day in and day out, but can we help our people know that it is there even in the midst of the crowded, loud world? 

I think that what this love can give us is courage.  Beth Moore says that "Courage comes from a heart that is convinced it is loved." Courage doesn't have to be loud and overbearing.  It can be silent and strong.  That courage comes from a love that puts down roots so deep that we don't have to wonder if it will bend. We just know it is there, holding us up.  We will try to build up our children as we have been built: to know love so loyal and so forgiving that we can go out into world and maybe make a big, fat mistake.  And if we do, maybe our people will have the courage to know that those mistakes don't make us who we are and don't define who we might be able to be.

And I know that there are people, who due to a family who couldn't or wouldn't pour in that kind of love, see life through a different lens.  A lens of fear and of hopelessness.  A lens of fighting and pride and stepping on each other.  But we can change the history of our families.  We can be the family that breeds a silent love for each other.  For the old and the young, for the smallest and the tallest, for the weakest and the strongest of its members.  If one of us falls we don't have to be loud and overbearing and meddlesome.  We can be quiet.  We can be still.  We can just be present.

It reminds me of those beaded bracelets that I made with my niece.  Sometimes like the string, our family seems to weaken and fray.  Sometimes we want to help each other so much that we push and meddle.  I can picture my niece with furrowed brow concentrating so hard to get that purple plastic bead on the string.  We got frustrated, my niece and I.  We both took turns trying to force that bead on the string.  I think we might have been yelling at that stubborn bead.  Suddenly, the bead slipped and fell to the floor and rolled away.  We searched and we searched.  Then, we took a minute.  We took some deep breaths.  We waited a bit and sat quiet.  We didn't want to let it stay lost because it belonged on that bracelet.  Then we looked again, less frantically this time and we found that lost bead.  We worked gently this time and strung it back on the thread. 

That's what we can do with each other.  Sometimes we try to force a person to be who we want her to be.  Sometimes we push too hard. Or maybe, we want to tell ourselves to just forget it. Leave that bead out there under the dusty couch.  But we can't. We search until we find.  Then maybe we can just work on being a calm and quiet place of belonging.  We won't let that member of the family roll away forgotten.  We bring him back.  We find a quiet, calm, loving way to get her back on the bracelet.  We put everyone back together on a string that is threadbare and worn but still strong enough for all of the beads to know that this is exactly where they belong. 

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