Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Dharma of Family

Kathy and I returned today from visiting my family in Alaska. There is so much to say about this journey that I'm not really sure where to begin, so I will let the blog "dictate" itself...

Yesterday, my 56th birthday, I was surrounded by about thirty beings with whom I share ancestry or relationship: my dear aunt and uncle David and Aleen Fison, their children who are my five cousins, their spouses, partners, children and their partners and children. Don't let the family name confuse you. My father was born a Fison, and he was David's full brother. Dad took the family name of my grandmother's second husband after his own father, my grandfather Percy L. Fison, abandoned the family. So, by right of blood, I am a Fison as well.

David, an Emeritus Minister in the United Methodist Church, led a short prayer before eating dinner in his hand-built geodesic dome house. He spoke for all of us when he declared, "our hearts are full." After the meal, there was a birthday cake for me, and much laughter as I was officially inducted into the clan.

It has been a long time since I have felt the presence of my own family in my life. I have been with other people and their families, joining in on the shared familial vibe, but not being a real part of it. My parents and one of my two sisters have died, and the rest of my immediate family are spread across several states. The experience of being present with my own people in this way was a new and powerful experience. And at the same time, as natural as breathing.

It is my intention over the course of the rest of my life to connect more fully with my family and old friends, especially during joyous events, such as the weddings Kathy and I attended this past week; first for friends in Seattle, and then for my cousin's daughter in Anchorage. For as we know, it is all impermanent, and the gatherings that are not pleasant are sure to follow in the years to come.

For now, I will hold the people and events of this past week in my very full heart.


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