Friday, September 22, 2006

One of my readers expressed bewilderment about my sibling situation. "How is it possible that a minister who concentrated on the love of God and neighbor from the pulpit and in his ministry, produced three children who can't get along, even as they enter their senior years?" I wish I knew, Dear.

The love and loyalty that seem so natural among other families seems to have bypassed ours. Was it because our mother was a self-absorbed only child? Because my father and his sister were estranged from their youngest brother? Because our house was too crowded? Rivalries encouraged? Hostilities too prevalent? I just don't know.

I don't remember being taught that I "should" love them; I didn't particularly like them. Since I was the oldest, I remember them being pesky and bothersome brats, no endearing qualities, at all. As I aged, I realized, by observing other families, that I should care about them, but that always seemed such a one-sided effort that true affection was rarely felt.

I've managed to maintain civil relationships with each of them, another case of "Act as if, and the feelings will follow," but those warm feelings are few and far between. Sometimes I'd like to "shake them til their teeth rattle," like our father was fond of saying. Most of the time, I'd just rather not be bothered. It's a sad commentary on a family raised to be Christian.

Each of us is struggling with spouses who are seriously ill - cancer, schizophrenia, heart disease and stroke. I've received very little support and help from either of them; each of them can say the same thing about the others. We are not a congenial bunch. If I could wiggle my nose and correct the situation, I would, but I'm not Samantha. Most of the time, I don't worry about it. I've made it this far without them, maybe I can make it the rest of the way without them. I wish for a better accounting to our Heavenly Father at the end of the road, but I'm sure He's heard worse.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)

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