We gathered, the Swartzes and Althouses, under the big maple tree in Tim’s yard.  When this tree and I were little(r) she  offered the best branches in the yard for climbing and skin the cat.  Now her limbs are high and wide and it was less hot under her dark leaves than anywhere else on that hot humid July Sunday afternoon.

Our families had been together the evening before to bear witness to Ted and Sue’s son’s marriage commitment; on this day we were wearing shorts and flip flops, changed from the heels and neckties of the night before.   We formed a haphazard circle of lawn chairs and benches, eating a picnic lunch, and the afternoon stretched out in easy conversation, sometimes soft words between two or three, other times shouting across the circle, including everyone. We have been family for 37 years, conceived when Ted fell in love with Sue.   The electricity of humor snapped among us, sharp wit and simple silliness at old jokes and family foibles.  Electricity grounded by the  comfort of long-time knowing, of choosing again and again to care about, be interested in, to step away from judgment, to love.

The afternoon was reminiscent of my childhood when Sunday afternoons seemed to be created solely for the gathering of family or church friends.  The day held, as it did in those long ago summer days, a golden hue of rest and respite and a security of relationship.   The hot muggy air was close, congruent with the feel among us – slow, languid, easy. When it was time to leave we lingered, reluctant to pull away.

We are different from each other, these two families, and within the families  – age, experience, education, communication style, values, fears, accomplishments.   On that afternoon we felt the bonds of kinship that started with Ted and Sue, affection snaking through the years of children’s weddings, loved one’s deaths, church events, dramatic performances, graduations, hospital visits and more.  Our connections tightening and loosening, our lives bumping against each other and sweeping apart again.  The memory of our Sunday afternoon rests deep deep within my heart; it is a moment in time that reflects the strength and joy of choosing love.  It is proof of love’s secret power to transform the edges even when we are unaware.

I caarry your heart

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  1. Elizabeth

     /  September 15, 2013

    Tina ~ your words draw me in~ Thank you.

  2. Carolyn Bergey

     /  September 15, 2013

    I believe that maple tree surrounded and embraced us with love. Spending time together was an invitation to talk, visit, laugh and play. It was wonderful to connect to each other and create new memories!

  3. Oh, I so feel that Sunday golden hue, remembering it so well from my earlier years. Thank you for letting us sit in that circle with you for a few moments here on the “page” — my heart feels the kinship.

  4. Starla – It is a history of time spent many of us share – I am grateful!! And knowing that you had your own Sunday afternoons in your childhood strengthens that bond between us. It’s like kinship to the next exponential!

    Carolyn – yes!


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