It’s hard to return, but harder to stay away.
So much has transpired in the last few weeks, so it’s best that I start with what’s fresh, which is our family reunion experience in Atlanta. Just a weekend with 300 of my closest friends. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive as the trip neared at the beginning of August. After all, I remember very few of my relatives, and my last family reunion trip was more a blur than a memorable event. So, Miki, Christopher and I packed up and headed to Atlanta (which was a feat in itself considering our car’s radiator died hours before leaving, forcing us into a rental van), and rehearsed the phrases we felt would protect us…
“I’m Laverna Johnson’s first grandson…”
“I’m Reita’s daughter in law…
“We’re on the Williams side”…
Anything to remind our relatives that we really belonged.
Upon arrival, our first sight was the giddy faces of Marcus and Naomi, freshly spoiled by my parents – the new video game hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m sure the kids will remind them to ship it – and hugs all around for my parents, my sister and niece, and my aunts that had arrived. We then found ourselves in the hotel ballroom with about 100 of the first arrivals, where we met up with the family choir and my cousin Marilyn, who was directing traffic for me music wise. Of course I had to play – it was my ticket into good graces with the family for missing so many reunions. (Just kidding.)
I could talk more about the goings on – the picnic, the dance where my parents and (gasp) my wife and I danced while grandkids and kids gawked and gagged at the sight of romantic adults (how do they think they got here?), the bickering of the family business meeting, or other memories. But most of all I was filled with a sense of belonging, of once again knowing I have roots in something larger, bigger, and more expansive than my little life here in Miami.
These posts became scarce as I began considering big changes in our family life and lifestyle, and I began to fear writing. Mostly because this became a safe place to air my feelings and frustrations, I was terrified that when thinking of change and opening myself to the possibilities publicly on paper, I would lose that sense of honesty in trying to protect my readers (and myself) from the sense of uncertainty that such a reflection would bring. But with a few sermons and a reflection period, I realize that without such a opening to new horizons, there could be no real benefit in being reconnected. How could I have such a strong foundation, a family stretching 6 generations, and not at least give the next generation an example of fortitude in the face of change and challenge? My ancestors do not loom large as intimidators, but as
examples of how far life can take you even when you don’t realize it at the time.
Knowing I’m at one of those points – where my present is as tenuous and tender as my future – gives me even more reason to hang on to the foundations of my past. To know that my city of residence, my career, or my current calling don’t change what made me what I am now, and changing any of those first conditions will not change the root of who I will be. It is all based on the connections already made in my faith and my family that ensure that my success will be permanent even if my circumstances change.
I’ll have much more info on the reunion, not that I got the heavy stuff out. I’ll attach pictures soon.
Looking unto the hills,