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This page last updated 10 July 2008  

an essay for Anglicans Online

8 July 2008

Sculpture: Family of Man, Calgary CA

Last week one of our parish friends suddenly had to fly to a little town in Mexico. Her older brother, along with his wife and toddler, was on vacation there from his home in Alaska. Our friend had received word that her brother had collapsed with a life-threatening cranial hemorrhage.

With no parents living, the four adult children in our friend's family work to remain just that: a family – despite distances both ideological and geographic. Thus, off flew one sister from Massachusetts and the other from Idaho – down to Mexico to stay and pray and help their brother and sister-in-law. The younger brother is in constant contact from his home in Utah. Two friends from Hawaii, in Mexico to share this long-anticipated vacation with their Alaskan friends, have rearranged their schedules to remain in town to lend support by helping with the toddler and day-to-day chores.

The four siblings have very different lifestyles and beliefs about politics, religion, and the world. They are rarely together in the same place. They use telephone calls and email to stay in touch. Through talking, listening and suspending judgment on each other's values and actions, they are able to recognize the strengths each has to offer the others and to the world at large.

Our friend says they can and do have heated discussions amongst themselves, but they have learned from these moments. They now choose not to argue hurtfully about subjects and values where they differ. At the end of the day, being a family is more important to them than winning an argument.

A family with an unexpected crisis reacts by joining together and focusing on the one in need. Differences are put aside; each finds uses for their individual strengths to care for their brother and to support each other.

In his book, God Has a Dream, Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes,

'…And so it should be with God's family. We are not expected at all times to be unanimous or to have a consensus on every conceivable subject. What is needed is to respect one another's points of view and not to impute unworthy motives to one another or to seek to impugn the integrity of the other. Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another and cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.' 1

We pray for our friend's brother and her family. Their relationships with each other are a tangible reminder for the rest of us of the important essentials: ideological differences are outer trappings; we are each other’s siblings in the all-encompassing loving family of God.

1 Tutu, Desmond. God has a dream: a vision of hope for our time (with Douglas Abrams). ISBN: 0-385-48371-6 Copyright 2004. Image Books, 2005. Page 22.