My second grade son received his first Eucharist last weekend. Guests filtered in over the course of the week until there were a total of twelve people staying in our house. With all the boys camped out in our master bedroom we happily made room for our family - some of whom had never been to our home before.
We spent time at the beach, burying boogie boards and boys, tossing a football in the waves and holding shivering little ones still afraid of getting wet.
Living so far from family does have its advantages. There are no obligations to fill one's weekends with relatives' games, parties and needs. No confrontations to be had over conversations mis-interpreted, no grandparents giving unsolicited advice on our parenting style, no one to have to help with their moving, painting, cleaning or even emergencies.
And yet I cannot help but wonder if such advantages have really improved our family functioning. It appears that the more removed we have become, the more selfish and sensitive we have become as well. We are out of the groove of making life work surrounded by those we both love and conflict with the most. Maybe this individualist society has created less tolerance within extended families themselves.
Still, as our family endures a painful loss of one such family member, we realize that despite our modern ability to compartmentalize our lives, we are completely intertwined across the miles.
Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted. ~Paul Pearshall