SK drove away this morning, causing a shift in the household. Last night in the shower, I was more than a little teary as I contemplated it (showers have always been my locale of choice when it comes to crying!). The thing is, our family is set up for all of us to have a share. Certainly we aren't 'equal' members--parents, after all, are the final authority, though that has obviously morphed some as they all reach their twenties--but we are all part of the collective. During the last three weeks, life has felt the way it should, familiar, comfortable, true. And then she drives away again, upsetting the apple cart, in a way. Tipping the balance, at least for a bit. But what is also true is that we find a different balance when our kids are gone. Last year, when they were all absent from our house, we found a rhythm that began to make sense for the two of us. We became (or at least were in the process of becoming) something different than we'd been with three kids trailing behind us, but not something unwelcome.
The truth is, both individuals and families as collectives have personalities. Who our family was when the kids were chublets--when they held our hands when they crossed the streets and went to bed before us--is a far country from the place we now inhabit. We're more of a democracy now, whereas we used to be a monarchy. Their voices are loud and reasonable, and we have learned how to listen to their plans rather than simply tell them what to do (unfortunately, a difficult lesson to learn--I come from a long line of advice-givers!).
The world would tell us that we're all equal. Isn't equality one of those 'unalienable rights'--or the right--that people have protested, preached about, died for? And, of course, in a very real way, we are all equal. We are all created in the likeness of God, we are all sinners, we are all the ones He came to earth to die for, resurrect, and save. But in another sense, our 'sameness' begins and ends with God. He doesn't value one of us over another; however, He definitely makes distinctions. We aren't created in an assembly-line with identical parts, we are organic, breathing, feeling creatures, with unique and important differences. And together we form not a machine, but a body. His body.
When I look into the mirror even those things I have two of are dissimilar. My right eye can't be interchanged for my left--it has an odd bump on the lid, a scar from a sty of childhood--and ther are more brown specks in the green of one eye than the other; most significantly, my left eye is near-sighted, my right eye far-sighted, which is not a subtle difference. I have to close my right eye to read, but have done this instinctively almost as long as I've been reading. And my hands are different--they look different, act differently, even have different sensory responses. My right has sometimes seemed merely ornamental, but it's also the one that never gives me any trouble. Three fingers on my left hand are numb, tingle with chronic pain, and even though I'm left-handed, don't grip evenly.
The point is, the body, as Paul tells us, is made up of parts. Not interchangable, not the same, but all equally important to God, and to each other. When one member is gone, like SK now, or not functioning, like me when I'm wracked with pain, the body is thrown off. Eventually, at least in an absense (both temporary and permanent), the body adjusts. Compensates for pain (thankfully, mine does!).
I'm thankful that we're of organic material, that we move and flow and become something new all the time. I'm thankful that, even as individuals, we're part of a whole, the sum of which is not only bigger, but more important, than the parts. I'm thankful that in the end, He, who is the head, completes us. Makes us whole. His Body=our Life.