Saturday, November 26, 2016

Missing the whole at the holidays

Rox was busy, like always, making turkey with all the fixin’s, like always…but, this year was different. 
She let out a sigh, “we’re out of milk.”
“I’ll go.”
I grabbed the keys and drove past twinkling lights and driveways filled with cars—I smiled. I love holidays.
But then, I remembered my wife’s sigh, my smile dropped. I thought of our empty driveway and made a sigh that sounded a lot like hers.
Holidays. That’s when the whole family gets together for a feast. At least, that’s the way it used to be. But now? Well, now, where do we…I mean, how does…um, what do we do when, the whole family, isn’t whole anymore? How can we be thankful when one of the things we’re most thankful for has fallen apart at the seams?
Lately we’ve seen a whole lot more hospitals and funeral parlors than wedding chapels and baby showers. But the latest death, the one that’s caused, the sigh to fall from our lips, isn’t a physical death, but a relational one.
My dad, who just spent his first Thanksgiving in heaven, always said the saddest sound ever heard was, Taps. I believed him until just the other day, when I heard my seven year old grandson say, “divorce.” I heard the quiver in his voice, watched him blink a few times and wipe the back of his hand across his eyes.  An old familiar pain pierced my heart…but it was nothing compared to the sword ripping his in two.
I don’t really remember the rest of my trip to and from the store. I’m pretty sure I got the milk. And I remember asking God, right out loud, for help.
I think, before their heads get filled with all kinds of fodder, kids must have a direct line to the Father. Because, when I got back to the house our ten year old granddaughter, Neveah, had turned our humble little Thanksgiving meal, into a formal feast, with our very own maitre d’.  She had helped prepare the food and set the table. She created little folded menus which stood next to name tags. The towel she draped over her arm matched the plates.
We sat in our assigned seats and Nevaeh wrote down our orders. She handed the order to my wife, who fixed the plates from a card table placed next to the hutch where all the food was on display.
When everyone was finally seated, we held hands and prayed. As we ate we took turns saying things we were thankful for. This was the part I thought would be hard, but we made it all the way around the table without a hitch…after the third round the sparkle had returned to the eyes of the kids and my wife’s laughter bounced off the walls again.  
I didn’t forget the empty spaces at the table. They didn’t get filled. Relationships weren’t restored and the dead didn’t get raised. But, in the midst of the eye twinkling laughter, the food and the chatter, I saw hope. Ever since God created the first family by joining Eve with Adam, and as long as there’s one family on the planet, there is hope. Getting together as a whole family to have a feast is God’s idea. It’s what makes every person on the planet do it, no matter what race, color, status or creed.
Family, it’s God’s design to make us whole as a person, a home, a neighborhood, a town, a nation, the world. After all, if we go back far enough, we are just that—family.
iluvu & pray4u, my brother, my sister… my family.


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