Friday, February 3, 2017

A family meal

I come from a large family. Some of us are loud and outgoing, some of us prefer to be observers. And some like best to care for others. They get great joy in knowing others are well-cared for, while I'm sitting in the middle, laughing and telling stories. My Beve is one of those. It isn't that he doesn't tell a good story. He does. He just likes the hospitality part, too. I could name the others (like my sweet, dear aunt, and my dear, sweet youngest sister) who also have the gift of hospitality that has passed over me without a second thought. But my family has a whole lot of other differences, too. Some of us are Christians. Others are Atheists. We have athletes among us, and clutzes (I'm raising my hand here). We are a family of engineers, farmers, teachers, bankers and accountants, and business people. Even someone in media.
And we're Republicans and Democrats.

But when we gather together, when someone rings the old bell on the porch of the cabin, for instance, to call us to dinner, we are family. Just that. Family.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist (oh, and we have one of those, too) to figure out which among us are Red and which are Blue. We're all pretty smart people, you know. But at dinner, it doesn't matter. We've loved these people our whole lives. Or they married someone we love and that's good enough for us. And it doesn't matter who believes and who doesn't, either. They're family. I don't take my food and only sit by those who believe the same things ideologically that I do on every issue, or find the corner where the Evangelicals sit. These days, I'm calling myself a post-Evangelical because I'm not sure I want to claim them, anyway.

My point is, we just belly-up next to whoever happens to have an open seat, because the table's big and we haven't seen this large unruly mess of a family in a while and there's always a new conversation worth having here. Those conversations remind me of what we share, even though there are all these things that separate us. Sure, I'm a Christian, and my sister, Dump, is an Atheist. Does that mean I love her any less? SHE'S MY SISTER!!!

I've been increasingly frustrated, reading the news, wondering why our leaders can't simply sit down together, and remember what they have in common. I'm not talking about the man in the White House. I'm over him (only 13 days in and I'm out!). I'm talking about the ones who sit across the aisle from each other every day and have to try to work for our good, who are supposed to be representatives of us. ALL of us. They aren't in this for themselves but for us. Christians and Atheists and farmers and engineers, all together. YES, with different interests but all one giant melting pot of an experiment, called this country. I'm tired. Aren't you all tired?

I'm thinking that if those we elected two months-ish, or two, four, or six years- ish ago could just sit down at a big BBQ together, they might find they could be friends. I'm not talking about a fancy dinner party, where everyone tries to outdo each other in dress and pomp and pride and who sits where and what they've done and who they know. I'm talking about a barbecue on the backyard, or out on the lake, or up at the cabin where there's no running water and everyone has to take turns going to the well for water and uses the outhouse--yes, even the highest and mightiest of them. And they all sit on benches next to whoever they happen to sit next to--democrat, republican, other. And maybe they all have to take turns turning the burgers and chicken, and corn-on-the grill. Maybe they all smell a little smokey when they take their seats, but it's okay because everyone else does, too.

The air smells fresh, and the conversation flows, and before they've finished their potato salad (brought by the good senator from Idaho!) they find out that they all have worries that sound pretty much alike. Personal ones, like parents who are aging (or spouses, maybe--some of them have been around a LONG time, you know). Kids who trouble them. And farther reaching ones. The folks they know worry about similar things. These exact things. Parents, kids, their homes, their lives.

I think a family meal might just show our leaders that they're like us.
They're supposed to be, anyway. They come from us. They are. We sent them there, but we didn't send them to fight like children. We sent them to be who we would be if we were there. Having differences, but getting along because that's what people do when they're family, when they want to make something work.

Don't they want to make this work for us? I'm just asking because, after all, they're there for me.
If they'd like to have a barbecue, I know a great cabin up on Whidbey Island where we could feed them. I'd really love to see them do it. I really would.


Mandy Ellertson said...

Beautiful message Carolyn. Family dinners that our buoyed by love make us all better.

Carolyn Wiley said...

Thanks, Mandy. You know, if they had one of your meals, with your mixture of hospitality and honesty, I think it might go a long way to take them off their high horses.

Carol L said...

I think you ought to send this to our representatives. I wonder what they would think. Myself? I love it.

TwilightKnight said...

Family truly is a refuge in so many ways. I mean, there's no group of folks I'd rather spend time with than my family. We love, and laugh, and see eye to eye on so many things. My middle daughter and her family just moved to Spokane three months ago, and they are building a house. Then, my oldest daughter and her family decided they were ready to build as well.... and found a lot about a block away. My long term plan is to move to be near to them, and I can hardly wait. Sounds like heaven to me to be closer, and more involved in the lives of my children and grandchildren. Oh. And btw, I'm DONE with politics too!