Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lent Day 20: Family traits

The day has slipped by. My brother and his kids came for a visit - they live in Edmonton, so it's a rare treat. Being with family is renewing and reminds us of who we are inside, before the expectations of work and friends shaped us.

Our parents made sure we stayed in touch when we started our families, and so as adults we know each other, like each other, and enjoy the individuality of our callings as well as the things we have in common.

Dad just put his Super 8 movies on DVD. What a laugh it's been to watch my little brothers put on an unselfconscious show (cello and violin). My older brother looks disinterested (at age 14), a typical lanky teen, bored at being conscripted for photos. He'll be the one who picks up the baton and makes a career out of music. In all the pictures, I'm restless, uncomfortable on camera.

The old films show how we work together when the family plays music: my dad tucks his violin under his chin and the rest of us fall into line. We often have no music, just a, "Let's play this tune." No one looks very stressed or anxious about notes because we all play by ear. We're doing what we've done dozens of times, harmonizing together.

The music is an inborn trait: my husband's family and mine grew up singing and playing.  I'd hoped our kids would do the same, make music, perform, bond as a unit. But we never had an orchestra to play with, and my husband didn't take much of an interest in the kids' lessons. After we changed churches, the children refused to get up in front of strangers. Gradually the music fizzled out as they went to college and the lessons stopped.

Maybe our kids will torture their own children with music lessons. It takes a lot of stamina and determination, not to mention a financial commitment. The discipline is all on the part of parents when kids hate practicing. Watching the next generation at lessons would be the best revenge, after all the trips I made as a student and as a parent of students.

It's interesting to see family traits in God's household, too. Some of us perpetuate the good things - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness... and some are still hard at lessons, struggling to fit into the band of brothers and sisters. We have an elder brother who modeled the family character so we could follow his lead.

God is kind. He watches over us with tender affection and cheers us on to do our best, no matter how excellent or distressing the performance.

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