I sent word I could not attend. There was an important meeting. Attending the reunion would mean traveling for three consecutive weekends. That would mean driving thousands of miles; and, like me, my car was aging.
As the time for the Paris reunion grew nearer, I began to rethink my decision. Ten days before the event, I rearranged my plans and sent word I would be there. It was the right decision.
Family is important. Written biblically, my ancestry would sound like this — Obadiah begat Louis, Louis begat Charles Henry, Charles Henry begat Charles Norman, Charles Norman begat Wade, and Wade begat … that’s far enough.
My father moved from the place of his birth, Marion, Ky., as a young boy. The family moved from the little town of Marion to the metropolis of New Orleans. In New Orleans, Dad met and married my mother. Making a living and travel in those days was hard. That plus the death of Dad’s parents made maintaining ties with Kentucky kin difficult.
The family reunion gives me a chance to fill in some gaps about who I am. For example, people often asked if my father or grandfather was a preacher. My honest response was, “No, to the best of my knowledge, no member of my family is a preacher.” However, at the reunion I learned of Pleasant Hill Regular Baptist Church near Marion where members of my extended family served as pastor for more than 100 years consecutively. Once we “discovered” each other, they invited me back to preach their “May Meeting” thirteen consecutive times. (God help them!)
At a reunion, you meet all kinds of kin. Some look and act like me, and some don’t. I wonder silently, “We carry similar genes; how is it we are so different?”
Being with Dad’s family reminded me of him and advice he gave. While instructing me on the “how to” of things, Dad would sometimes say, “Dad (my grandfather) always said, ‘Do it this way.’” Then, my Dad would do it differently. It bothered me that he did not follow his father’s instructions. Our earthly families are microcosms of our spiritual families where we all have the same heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father has taught us how to live as family, to love one another and forgive one another. Unfortunately, we children often fail to follow the Father’s instructions; and that should bother us all.
Wade Paris writes a weekly syndicated column, “The Shepherd Calls.”