Monday, December 19, 2005

from the heart

i went to a wedding over the weekend as a guest of the bride. it was beautiful to see her marrying someone who seems so grateful to his Creator for having her in his life. their love for each other has come after many years of being tossed and turned by life, and it is a sweet refuge for them from the things they have been through. it was a monumental triumph over adversity for them to find love in each other and to be blessed enough to solidify it in a marriage, so i am glad to have been there to witness it.

what was perhaps most interesting about the wedding is that neither the bride nor the groom knew if their invitees would show, and if so, which ones. as i've said, both of them have been through some things, and my guess is that those experiences have done their part to affect the bride and groom's relationships with their respective families. the room was mostly filled with clergy, church members, and some feuding family members. the pastor of the couple used the opportunity of having everyone in the room to remind all of the people present that family is important - that forgiveness and reconciliation were signs of the true believer. the pastor then encouraged the family members to give love to one another, call each other after the wedding, keep in touch, have reunions, and deal with each other from the heart.

how telling is it that such reminders even have to be given? seems like that reminder has been given at every funeral i've been to in my life. seems like there are family members that i only see at a wedding, funeral, or maybe one of the big three holidays - easter, thanksgiving, and christmas. now i know that everyone works, and that families, including my own, don't all live in the same neighborhood anymore. that said, i wonder why some folks don't make their families a priority enough to spend time with each other for no reason? i try to do that. i'm not always knocking on doors, but i make sure that my family sees my face or hears my voice. it doesn't matter to me if i'm always the one calling or visiting them. it doesn't matter to me if i have to be discreet about my business in order to keep it out of folks' mouths. it doesn't matter if it feels awkward sometimes because maybe we haven't been in touch for a while and don't know each other well. the effort that's made could possibly be enough to keep the next generation of children from growing up to not be able to tell family members from strangers. shoot, when i was down south, i was hesitant to even date anyone from the county we're from , just because i had to check names and family trees with my grandmother first.

i love that my cousins' children know me and that i'm not some random person they only see on the holidays. i remember being wary of family members like that when i was a child. the ones who seemed like nice people, but could only talk about how much i've grown since they last saw me, since that was the extent of their involvement in my life. i'm not saying they had to take me to the park every week, but a simple drop-by every once in a while would have been nice - just to say hey, how are you, just came to hang out for a while. instead, such people would give me what i call a "church hug" (you know that tepid hug that people give a stranger) and slip me some impersonal money to show that they cared (or to avoid the political fallout from other grown-ups of showing up without presents). later for that. that's not what family is supposed to be.

something is wrong when your own family seems to know and care about you less than people you picked up by choice - church folks, fraternal folks, school folks, teammate folks. something is warped when people take ties and commitments to other folks more seriously than they do the spiritual bond that should exist between members of the same family. people need to love from the heart and give from the heart when it comes to their flesh and blood family. family is a gift that should not be taken for granted or rejected, because there is value in those family ties. i know more about myself because of my parents and grandmother and caring aunts than i would ever know without them. i know more about the world because of my cousins and their children. i know one thing, if i ever marry - i'm going to need a big space for my family.