A Family Feeling

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, Susan and I traveled south to Indiana to be with my father.  Originally, our plans included being with our daughter, Kate and her soon-to-be husband, Kris, but after a phone call to Dad and hearing his voice we felt that our time would be better spent with him.  As you may remember, my mother died last fall and Dad is now alone.  Sixty-seven years with a remarkable lady and for the first time since he was eighteen years of age Dad now greets each new day in a different way. 

For a Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis (Think Indy 500 Raceday!) the traffic wasn’t all that bad and we were glad to see him.  He was all tan from working several days in the yard.  His skin is a little more wrinkled and the spring in his step has pretty much sprung, but he had a smile on his face.  After unpacking the car he told us that his sister, my Aunt Gretchen (age 92), had fallen and broken her elbow.  So on Sunday, we drove over to Rushville, Indiana, to visit her in the hospital.  There we were met by her two daughers, Sharon and Kay.  I had seen all of them at my mother’s funeral, but before that more than a dozen years had lapsed since our last visit together.

Aunt Gretchen looked worn out.  Surgery was needed, but she decided that at the age of 92 she wasn’t going to put herself through all of that “nonsense.”  In two weeks she will enter a rehab center.  She’ll never be able to raise her right hand above her head anymore.  We talked together for over two hours, remembering times and experiences that I would have never thought of on my own.

When it came to leave, I asked her if she would like a word of prayer.  Without hesitation she answered, “Yes.”  So we stood around the bed, hands joined and heads bowed.  During the prayer, I realized that I wasn’t praying as someone’s pastor; I was praying as a member of the family, a family who has known each other and gone through so much over all these years.  When the prayer ended, Aunt Gretchen didn’t say, “Thank you for the prayer, Dr. Miller.”  She softly uttered, “That felt good, Dale.”

I know that as a church we come and go in each other’s lives.  Sometimes we see each other a lot; sometimes we barely recognize one another.  Sometimes we go through intense pain together; sometimes we experience wonderful celebrations together; and sometimes we go through periods of not being involved with each other.  We don’t always feel like a close-knit family, but we are a family nonetheless.

Sunday mornings are a time of worshiping together as a family of faith.  When I don’t see some of the family members I get worried and mourn their absence.  I like being around you people.  After a worship service I don’t necessarily need people saying, “That felt good, Dale.”  But I would hope that people could say, “I felt God in my life and in our life together this morning, Dale.”  What else could a faith family member hope for?