Yesterday was a pleasant day. The sun shone brightly, yet the air was not too hot. There were birds and butterflies flitting about doing what birds and butterflies do. It was a great day to sit outside and simply soak it all in. However, I had a family commitment that placed me with cousins and in-laws and children and, well, just a whole lot of people. If you’ve spent any time at this blog, or if you know me, then you realize that social gatherings are not my specialty. My idea of the perfect day would be to sit in the sun with a book and a refreshing beverage. So, to say that I was looking forward to this gathering would have been overstating things a bit.
We arrived and exchanged our greetings. Finding a place at one of the tables, we sat down and struck up light conversation. Soon, the food was prepared and everyone began milling about the food table filling plates and glasses. “Oh, that looks interesting, what is it?” And, “Who made the lentil salad?” Questions being asked as we foraged through the bowls and platters filled with the various offerings of those gathered. Finding our places again, we ate and talked. That person, (“who is he again?”), brought his two young children who are really cute! Almost completely done with his pasta salad, the young boy cries out to his dad, “Oh no, there’s olives in this! Why didn’t you tell me there were olives”?! His sister had spotted them in hers and pushed them aside. The dog belonging to our host is making the rounds of all of the tables. She looks longingly at the food on our plates, sniffing for any morsel that may have wandered off of a plate and onto the ground. Over there is a small group animatedly talking about the prospects of the local football team for the upcoming season. If the coaching staff only knew half of what these people did, there would be a superbowl in the future for our local team!
Stories told and retold. Travel adventures from those who had come from out of state. I asked our host, who likes to hunt, if he ever took the dog. He replied, “Yes,” and with a gleam in his eye, told me about how they had trained her and how she was very good at finding and flushing the birds they hunted. About this time there was a splash. A couple of the kids had decided that the pool could no longer be ignored. Occasionally, someone would walk into the house to revisit the table with the food. Picking a bit of that salad; procuring another piece of carrot cake. From the other side of a tall fence we began to hear loud thumping noises. Looking around it, I saw that the corn hole game was out. More people gathered around with bottles of water and plastic cups full of soda. More talking and laughing.
After a few hours the noise subsided into quiet clusters of conversation. Everyone, having eaten their fill, seemed content to sit back and relax. Memories were being shared. After all, this is family. There is a collective memory that is like a finely cut gemstone. One memory with many facets that reflect that memory in many different ways. Each has its own perspective that reveals a new color; a new refraction of the light that produces a unique vision of love and commitment that has continued to grow and thrive through many generations.
So, I sat in the sun and watched, talked and listened. And, I realized that I was doing exactly what I had wished that I could do. I was outside enjoying the sunshine. However, rather than reading a book, a story written by someone else, I was part of this story. A story not written with ink on paper. But, rather, one that is being written on the hearts and in the lives of this small group of people…this family.