By: Staci Stallings
There are many things I could say about my upbringing, but the one that stands out most dramatically is the importance of family. Now I know in our decentralized, fragmented society family is becoming less prominant. I count that a big problem because fewer and fewer people get to experience what I did last night.
My husband’s family (and by extension me) is connected to two other families from our hometown. Both of these other families are HUGE. I mean just the brothers, sisters, kids and grandparents could make a larger family reunion than most people will ever experience. We’re talking 60 to 70 people for EACH family! And because of marriages between the two, they are very close.
Well, last night, a student from each family went through the senior service at our church, celebrating that they will be graduating in the next two weeks. So the two families, to make it easier, decided to throw one big party at a local resturant. Now, out of both, many people didn’t come. They don’t live particularly close or just couldn’t be there, but there were about sixty people in attendance just the same.
The really cool thing was how the members dispersed to sit together. You know how at reunions, you sit with your own family rather than mingling? Well, this particular bunch of people is such a family that everyone was family! Husbands and wives didn’t even sit together. Families of five and six were dotted throughout the party room–sitting with friends and cousins rather than sticking with their own. Even the age groups were dispersed so that the old sat with the teenagers, and the little kids sat with the adults, and everyone had a great time.
I hear so often all the struggles families go through, and it’s not that our families have been without their struggles, but last night, I think I got a glimpse of Heaven. For a couple of hours, we weren’t separate and afraid. Three familes–twined and tangled, with inlaws, kids, brothers, sisters, grandparents–each and all welcome and loved. Makes me feel good that that’s even still possible in this crazy world. Maybe Heaven isn’t so far away after all.