As a small child, I learned a song in Sunday School. It was titled Jesus Loves The Little Children. Some years back (1970 actually), the song was incorporated into a pop song, Everything is Beautiful, sung by Ray Stevens.
I was thinking about this song today when a delightful multitude of my cousins gathered for a family reunion with our German relatives, a sweet family of four who were on their American journey to reconnect based on our shared past. There were two aspects of this gathering that I found significant.
First of all, this was a celebration of an intercontinental family, Stricker (or Eppe) by name and the generations who have gone before as well as those yet to come. No matter how diverse people are within this particular group (family), our lives are intertwined by our shared ancestry. Being able to reconnect and herald that common ancestry means (at least to me) understanding something deeper about myself in context of the larger world in which we live.
Secondly, this gathering celebrated our specific forebears (Grandma Edith Pfundt Stricker and Grandpa Otto Arthur Stricker) whose six children produced some twenty-four offspring and a slew of great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids and now on the cusp of great-great-great-grandkids. When we (the grandchildren) were little ones, many of us lived on the same street; we saw our grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins daily. Even though the years have spread us apart via distance and unique life experiences, whenever we gather, the years fall away and we regale in the fantasy of being those carefree children again.
It’s awesome (in a frightening way!) to consider that only my mother (almost 88) and my aunt (age 98) remain as matriarchs of the last generation, both of whom married into the family. When they pass on, the family torch will be passed into my generation’s grasp. It seems impossible that anyone should trust us with such responsibility!
Sadly, no family delivers its next generation to adulthood unscathed. My cousins and I have had powerful disappointments and we’ve endured our share of excruciating scars. (I tend to think I was blessed ‑ through no merit of my own whatsoever ‑ by having to suffer fewer trials than some of my cousins, but who can say for sure?)
Most of us learned (and believed) from an early age that Jesus Loves the Little Children. Whatever the individual crosses we bore (through childhood and into maturity), we were buoyed by our shared faith in the God of the Bible. As we peer down the road of life each of us has traveled, that shared faith now deepens the common bond we already share.
Driving my mom home this evening, I reflected on how precious life itself is … and how truly precious mine has been because I had the pleasure and privilege of walking along this path in the company of friends, many with whom I share a common ancestry. I am unquestionably and profoundly blessed.
That’s what makes everything beautiful!