He runs out to meet us as we pull up the long dusty drive. I roll down my window and he jogs along beside, eyes telling me he loves me. Dad slows to an idle and he sticks his head in to get a quick smack on the lips. Then he is off again, up to the top to wait where arms can envelop and speak words of reunion. Big brother is there already, smile spread wide, too caught off-guard for pre-teen pretense. He stands beside Mamaw, barefoot, cattail in hand.
They are back where they belong. But not before a long weekend of family gatherings and sweet visits.
We wonder at how the content of their prayers changes after these times of re-acquaintance. For they rarely see these country folk.
I think back to my times here–barefoot, wading in creeks, soaking up rarely seen cousin-friends.
This connection goes deeper than a once-a-year family reunion.
It’s awkward at first; shy smiles invite, reunion games bond, and shared food feeds the connection between the souls.
My father is the youngest of nine children. All raised on a farm. Not one a stranger to hard work or hard times. Grandmother died when I was a child. My memories of her are few and usually involve a long table filled with food.
But they still gather. To hold hands and hearts. To cradle babies and share stories. To catch up on now and laugh about then.
One dear uncle has passed away; brave soul, a one-time prisoner of war with a ready smile and sweet nature.
He is missed.
Their connection is deeper than ours; we are the moons that revolve around these planets.
And yet, as I listen to Jeffrey’s prayers, as he ticks off the names of these he has spent this time with, I am aware of an invisible string that ties us all together.
The same blood runs through these veins.
We share the same stories.
This weekend, I was surrounded by people who loved me before I was born. I held the hands of those who know my story, are intimately aware of where I came from. I looked into the faces of those who held me in their arms when I was a babe. They remember my childish ways, the foundation that I am built on. And they love me all the same.
There is such freedom in family. Such comfort.
This invisible string of love that ties us all together grounds us. It binds us to the past and allows us to reach out into the future.
Family. With all its flaws and misunderstandings, this is the garden that God planted us in.
My farmer grandpa would be proud.