The Blessings of Family, by Rev. Lee Ireland

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Elizabeth (my Mom) with Santa and Donner, 2013

So, you asked me to explain family to you.  Below are my reflections this night.  I’d be glad to rewrite a part if it comes across stilted.  Love to you, Lee

For me, my family is a collection of people who are at the core of my understanding of life: people with whom I have grown up or who have helped me to grow into the person I have become.  Some are my natal (birth) family members and some are my selected family members, i.e., the Wendell’s and a few special friends along life’s journey – who I can turn to in times of joy and questioning, because I know I am loved unconditionally, and they will listen and not judge and offer input or reflect back to me what I am saying or feeling.

Chrysanthemum daisies

My family is spread out across the US and though we can’t visit with one another very often in person, we do stay in touch all the time now through e-mails, phones, Facebook, and other means of communication – to stay up to date with one another’s activities, but mainly to just stay in touch and see what is unfolding through time for each other.

I have learned how to navigate through challenging moments, and moments of deep love and gratitude.  I would not be who I am fully, without my family connections and having had the freedom to explore life in the context of those who will love me through no matter what and with whom I don’t have to explain everything.

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The internet means of communication have certainly helped us to ‘see’ one another more frequently than our traveling time would allow.  I am most grateful for my siblings and my mother and my extended family through whom I have deepened in my understanding of the various aspects of love, forgiveness, and compassion.

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Rev. Lee Ireland is a pastor for the United Church of Christ near Hartford, Connecticut. She is my big sister, too. I am blessed to share family with Lee, whose compassion and keen insight on life has been…as with all Family, “priceless!” Thanks with Love, Lee.

I welcome your Family Better Endings insights, Comments or stories.

Enduring Solidarity

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“It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens

(Alice had once made the remark)

that whatever you say to them,

they always purr.”

    ― Lewis Carroll (http://catsatthebar.org/)

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My mother Elizabeth, with her grandpup,

my Shorkie companion Sophie

I have been pondering all this week what is a First Principle of Better Endings associated with Family relations? And I have found the answer, at least for me; it is:

Enduring Solidarity

So I’ve been asking also, how does a family accomplish the principle of Enduring Solidarity? That’s where the above pictures are helpful.

Family is Forever. We know that from the start. It is unconditional love in action. This is what our pets also know; that we love them, no matter what. And they don’t even have to think to offer us the same, from the beginning.

Family members may not always be on the same side of some political or ideological issue. They might practice different religions, live in widely separated geographical locations, and vary in their unique experiences and extended family ties. I rarely get to even see my immediate family together any more at any one time, and my intensely busy life keeps my focus more on my life in Colorado than on keeping up adequately with my family, especially my cousins, aunts/uncles, and nieces and nephews. Nevertheless, Family remains a core value and when it is possible to visit or to speak on the phone, enduring solidarity is immediate and lasting.

How does a family achieve this level of solidarity despite diversity and change in our individual lives? In my family I think it has been mainly a matter of Acceptance. Beyond  expressions of well intended care or concern, neither of my parents nor my siblings have ever tried to influence the choices of their children or siblings, about careers or beliefs, lifestyles or relationships.  We have known from the beginning and somehow understand that a family encompasses diversity in the very Nature of things. Relating this to yesterday’s post, this value of acceptance of diversity in a family, I would say, reflects the underlying awareness that a Family is an archetypal asssemblage to begin with.  We expect to see the growth and development of diversity within a family; in fact we welcome and value the differences that only serve to expand the greater whole of our collective experience.

butterfly on flowers

Enough said. I am deeply Grateful for the Enduring Solidarity that has nurtured my own and All My Family’s individual and collective unfoldment. This includes All My Family at every level and offshoot of connections.