I was standing outside the door of my sister's cottage Thanksgiving afternoon while the sunlight danced over the waves on the lake and made the snow on the ground sparkle like diamonds. I stood watching my brother Bill as he kept an eye on the turkey deep frying, and stood talking with our sister Sue, who is the most effervescent of the three of us. I felt filled with love as I stood watching them. Here we were, Bill and I at 50, Sue three years younger, now the official adults of the family with both our parents gone. I lit a cigarette and walked over to where they stood.
"You know what we all have in common?" I said.
"Not much," Sue replied a bit flippantly. "We are so different."
"Yeah," I said, "That's true. But what I see is that even though Mom and Dad are both gone now, we have such a strong loyalty to each other as family."
Bill agreed right away, and Sue did too. I've seen other families who don't stay in touch or stand up for each other that much. Despite our different personalities, the three of us are intensely loyal to our familial bond. It's just a given that we will always be there for each other.
Here stood my very fashionable, financially secure, soccer mom, new-age sister with her plethora of Sylvia Browne books, and the hodgepodge of beliefs she teaches her girls of Christianity, mixed with spirit guides and reincarnation. And there was my handsome, educated, successful businessman brother with his growing devotion to Buddhism, though still harboring a desire for a Christian church home, but not enough to leave his wife on Sunday mornings and venture out alone for one. And then me. The artsy, twice-divorced sibling, eking out a living as a designer, who lives much more modestly than either of them in a small mobile home, and is devoted to being a Christ follower and attending an emergent style church.
The other people at Thanksgiving dinner included my youngest son, who's also a Christian. My sister's girls with their new age spirituality blend, my brother's daughter who "doesn't do church", and my brother's teenage son who declared recently he doesn't believe in God. My friend/companion Noble who, when life was really hard, wanted to go to church, but now that life is better he tells me he doesn't believe in organized religion. My first husband was there too. He would profess to being a Christian, but I don't think he has any desire to talk of it or think about it too much. I think his mother crammed too much scripture into him when he was growing up, and he's never had a desire for much of it since. I don't think my sister's husband or my brother's wife are very much into any spiritual life. I have a feeling it just doesn't interest them too much. But for some reason my siblings and I, despite the lack of faith growing up, are all very spiritual people. But we walk down different roads. I can relate to Paul venturing to Greece and talking with all those Gentiles. My family is my Athens.
But I don't really talk about Christ with them much, except to say how happy and filled with joy I am at my church. I hope one day I'll feel so knowledgeable and filled with His presence that I can communicate more of the stories of this Jesus of Nazareth, because I don't think they really know his story and His words, and if they did it may make a huge difference.
Or maybe it wouldn't. But what I do know is that Christ said to get out there and love people. On a snowy Thanksgiving filled with sunshine, I found that so easy to do. We may be going down different spiritual paths, my siblings and I, but we talk and laugh and are totally devoted to each other. We love each other fiercely. And that, I know without a doubt, is a God thing.