In a day given over to others I thought I couldn’t be myself. Instead
I was overwhelmed by kind, generous hearts all around me. I was
grateful just to be with them, to be alive together here, now. I felt
a very unfamiliar urge to hug.
I had had plans, but I gave them up – at first dejectedly, but after a
nap, a little more expectantly: we were going to my in-laws’
church’s 100th anniversary celebration.
It’s a small church, so everyone knows everyone – everything is
personal. You can’t hide in the back. Your faults can’t be
concealed. But no one is excluded, either – even occasional
interlopers like me.
There was a vespers service in the afternoon, followed by dinner and
stories and songs at a restaurant around the
corner. The bishop, former pastors and possible future pastors
(seminarians) drove hundreds of miles to be there. Toddlers young and
old, four-generation families were there, all happy, all content. I
was greeted like an old friend, and I’ve never felt more at home. At the end I listened to them sing slavic – Rusin – folk songs,
beautiful and bittersweet, and I loved them all.
I loved them for celebrating – celebrating their history, their
community, their humanity – and for loving me as a part of it all, too.
Theirs is a big, complicated family, and it is no small accomplishment to
still love each other so much, so well after all these years.