This I Believe

Jo Ann - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on December 19, 2006
Age Group: 65+
Themes: family
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There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”

I believe in my family, of which I am a part. It is flawed and wounded, but in my eyes, beautiful.

It reflects the gamut of 21st century American life. There are in our ranks two single mothers, deserted by their husbands, and an unwed mother whose children have two different fathers. There is one felon who served his time and is now on the straight and narrow. We have our share of divorces, along with marriages and second marriages which remain intact. There are those unions without marriage, who are doing well. There are those whose God speaks to them in their Bibles, one who follows Budda’s teachings, and a professed atheist, the churched and unchurched. There are those who oppose abortion and homosexuals, while others see the humanity in both. Liberals and right wingers, from red states and blue.

Flanking the elders are the young ones just coming up. Like any grandmother, I pin my hopes on them for the world’s salvation.

My family’s ancestry, though varied, has strong Irish roots. I realize we didn’t get here on our own, but stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. That group I learned in Catholic schools to call the “communion of saints,” many of whom were not saints at all, but some, of course, who were. There was Rose Welch, my mother-in-law, who died at 97 years of age. When we buried her, no one wanted to leave her alone so we lingered there by her grave for a long time. My mother and father, Nell and Woody Wilson are buried nearby with two small grandchildren mingled in their dust. I often imagine the grand reunion there will be one day in that place.

I, at 81 years of age, am the designated matriarch of this group. Knowing I will join the ranks of those long gone, I reach out to embrace the living ones while I am able. This with a full heart that is thankful for each and every one of them.

I believe there is a fault line that runs through all of life. It is called the human condition. It is put here, I believe, to keep us humble because it is so rare to become that way on our own. It is this that links us to one another and to all other living beings. I am strengthened by both the weaknesses we have inherited and in some cases, fostered, and the shining good within each one of us, too.

I bow to the mystery of all things, to the grandeur and glory of this Earth and the heavens and stars as well, created, I am convinced, by One, patient enough to let it unfold in time, to whom we shall all return one day.

I write this to celebrate my family, which with all its cracks, lights my way and brings abiding joy to this mother’s heart.