How Big is Your Family?

I have been thinking about family a lot recently or I guess reminded a lot. Last weekend we held the funeral for the last remaining sibling of my father’s family of twelve. A week ago my well respected and deeply loved aunt Hazel, passed away a month shy of her 99th birthday. It was a day filled with reunions, stories and celebration of her life. It was surprisingly easy to reconnect with my cousins, some whom I had not seen for years. But, as they say, the years fell away as we shared our stories and caught up with our past.

What struck me more than anything else is the closeness that exists in strong families. I know as I write this there are readers who may have come from less functional families. From families where relationships may have been strained through time and differences. My heart has always gone out to them. I was fortunate enough to come from a family whose bonds were strong and remain strong to this day. That is not to say that there weren’t some relationships that were not as strong as others, but for me to remain as connected as I am to the cousins produced by a family of my father’s size, there must have been more that connected us than just our common blood line.

Families are a dynamic entity. Thus the question, “How big is your family?” Who does the term family encompass? How big is the circle that defines your family? Mother Teresa was once quoted as saying, “The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” Think about that. We spend so much time making our circles smaller, exclusive in their make-up. If we agree on principals, if we share the same beliefs, if we have common friends, then we draw our circle to include these people but not others. If we thought of the people we know, the people we work with, the people we simply interact with as family, then we would have widened our circle. If we then think of them as family, think how much better we would treat each other. Widen the circle. Make it inclusive, not exclusive.

Once we have widen the circle we draw to define our family, then we need to follow by being positive. By loving our circle unconditionally regardless of the differences that might try to separate us. What follows is compassion versus intolerance, unity versus divisiveness. Start to imagine what a better nation, what a better people we could be.

Today I listened to a sermon by our new minister, Heather Hayward and wanted to share an experiment she told us about. The experiment was done with water by Japanese author Masaru Emoto. Emoto experimented with water molecules and the effects of positive and negative words and music on the structure of the crystals they formed. (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qQUFvufXp4 ) The results were stunning and beautiful when positive words and music were applied. They were confused and in some ways ugly when the opposite was applied. Whether you choose to believe his experiment, the images are impressive. When you consider that the human body is comprised of 60% water, isn’t worth at least trying positive words versus the negative words we are bombarded with daily.

We do not choose our family. We are born into it. But we can choose the people we would treat as family. So I ask you, how big will you draw the circle of your family? Will you make it big enough to include me?
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