Monday, May 31, 2010

alternatives to church

in place of going to services yesterday, I opted to relax at home with cousins of my wife. this has gotten me thinking about family, which is so important to them, and never has been for me. since our marriage I've been taken in by my wife's family to the point that I almost feel more tied to them than to my own blood, and while I know that's because of my own failure--after all, I'm the one who tended to disappear for months at a time without notifying anyone and show up unannounced in the middle of the night without having called and other suchlike--I also think somehow it's, well, "wrong" is the wrong word. "discomforting" might be closer.

I have a lovely pair of parents who are still alive and in reasonable health. they continue to live on their own with minimal help from my cousin and his wife (who own the house in which they live and have a small bait shop/grocery store across the road). my cousin, who I barely remember from childhood, asked them to come live in the tiny town of austin, pa, after his own mother, for whom he'd bought the house, was placed in a local nursing home.

my sister and her family are well and happy, for the most part, in rural ny, not many hours from where we grew up; and while we didn't get along too well as kids--we were each other's only playmate for years, and that can lead to intense closeness or intense hostility, with the focus in both instances on the intensity--we are better with one another as adults. I'm close with my niece, getting closer with my nephew, and reconnecting with my brother-in-law. I also have a first cousin about 50 miles north of my parents who I see each time I go out there and who has been a stable part of our lives since I was in my teens.

all in all, I'm discovering that family is becoming more familiar to me. I don't think it's from a sense of mortality since I've always been very aware of my own, although an argument can be made, given the rapid slide of my father-in-law's health, that I'm becoming more aware of other people's. I willingly spent my weekend playing games with jayne's cousins' kids and sitting quietly in a hammock listening to the older one as she told me about her summer and her concerns (they're exactly what you expect a 10 year old to be concerned with); and while I've always loved to drink and share time with the adults, this time it seemed a little holier, as if we'd reached a place where we had found a place to which we can return at will. I'm not entirely sure how to say that, not sure I have the language to do so. I've talked for years about making a space a holy place through honoring one another in it, but I think I'm beginning to understand what that feels like on more secure footing.

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