On Wednesday night, they gathered. Not all at once, but gradually over a couple of hours. The kids, with their lives and their jobs, and their own concerns came home for dinner. Our three, now show up as six. This is new. Introductions were made and lots of questions. How did you meet? Where are you from? Chips in the salsa and guacamole, no double dipping. Only one was a true guest, first time home. The rest were on their best behavior.
We’ve recently experienced extended family torn thin over time, break under stress. Our prayer, now offered as a meal, is to nurture the bonds of friendship. I don’t believe this happens naturally. The demands of life pull and press until there is nothing left. So, we will set the table, pour the wine, and pray for love to fill our cups. In my way of thinking, life happens best when space is made on the calendar. So, we are negotiating the days and times.
We are making room for more. For more life, more love, more stories, and more people. I don’t know that the six that gathered will become family. I am committed to making them feel like family while they share our lives. I am praying for friendships to grow, for our family to be strengthened and for our adult children to see each other up close. It’s easy to forget that while you are growing and changing, so are the others.
This plan comes with both risk and reward. Knowing us, we will rub each other wrong. A playful jest will hit a wound and hurt bad. We will step on tender things. Playful jabs will fall, and tensions will rise. We have a way of pushing each other’s buttons. Forgiveness and grace will have to attend our weekly gathering. In some ways, it might be easier to stay away, to hold family afar and think kindly of people you never see. But, that’s not what we are aiming for. Our hope is shared life.
I don’t know that this will always be possible for us. Maybe our lives won’t always support this. Life has a way of shifting and changing over time. So now, while we can, we are making this a priority. When we were raising a house full of kids, I held on to two guiding principals. 1) Everybody lives and 2) Raise children you want to be around. By the grace of God, these seem to have worked for us. So, dinner’s at six, it should be fun.